Servicemembers would see a 10 percent boost in hazardous duty pay next year under a plan approved by a House panel Wednesday night.
The proposal, included in the House Armed Services Committee’s annual defense authorization bill, has the potential to add up to $300 a year in extra pay for tens of thousands of troops stationed in imminent danger areas or performing dangerous jobs like flight deck duty or demolitions work.
Currently, service members who qualify under those hazard pay requirements can receive up to $250 a month above their normal salaries. Under the House plan — which still must survive months of negotiations before becoming law — that figure would be increased to $275 a month.
Rep. Trent Kelly, R-Miss. and an Army reservist, sponsored the measure and called it a small but significant step towards recognizing the extra dangers some military jobs entail.
“We ask our warfighters to deploy into harm’s way, and this minimal increase is just a step in the right direction to show that we support them,” he said during committee debate on the measure. The proposal was adopted without any opposition.
The increase would not apply to troops serving in hostile fire areas and combat zones. Those individuals are already eligible for up to $450 a month in extra pay.
But Kelly said he hopes lawmakers will re-examine all of the hazard pay rules and amounts in coming months, to ensure the compensation given to those troops accurately reflects the dangers they face.
Senate lawmakers have not included a similar increase in their drafts of the annual defense authorization legislation, but have supported granting military hazard pay to active-duty and Guard troops performing coronavirus response missions.
Lawmakers are expected to reconcile the differing chamber drafts of the budget policy bill later this fall. The measure has passed out of Congress for the last 59 consecutive years.
Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.