The House of Representatives passed a defense policy bill Thursday that will cut military members benefits and expand military action in Iraq and Syria.
The bill which will provide up to $521.3 billion for the military and $63.7 billion for overseas operations was passed 300-119. The bill also approves a 1 percent White House cap on troop pay raises, down from 1.8 percent increases. It opts for a variety of other cuts next year while leaving the door open for frequent reductions requested by the Pentagon, such as:
- Basic housing allowances will go from covering 100 percent to 99 percent of costs, while the military hopes to eventually bring that down to 95 percent.
- Tricare pharmacy copays will cost troops $3 more, which could still be on track to meet the Pentagon goal of requiring $30 more out of pocket for prescription medicine within a decade.
- The $1.3 billion budget for base commissaries around the world will be reduced by $100 million. Brass wants a total of $900 million in reductions
According to the Associated Press, Rep. Adam Smith, a Democrat on the House of Armed Services Committee is completely against U.S. involvement overseas.
“The train and equip mission is just that,” Smith said. “I don’t want U.S. combat troops fighting this ground war …. By training and equipping the Syrians and Iraqis, we can empower them to fight their own ground war with our support from the air.”
The new defense policy will also address consequences for sexual assault in the military which increased by 8 percent in 2014. 6,000 sexual assaults in the military were reported this year compared to 5,500 in 2013.
Legislation is expected before the Senate next week to be approved and passed.