The House voted overwhelmingly yesterday for a 14.3 percent pay increase for all military personnel, effective Oct. 1, after rejecting a Senate-passed plan to give bigger raises to more experienced officers and enlisted men.
The issue now goes to a House-Senate conference committee, which will try to work out a compromise between the two versions. Each starts out from a different premise on what is the military's most pressing problem: The House accepts the Reagan administration contention that the biggest problem is recruitment, while Senate military experts argue that keeping trained men and women is far more important.
The key vote came on an amendment by Rep. Joseph P. Addabbo (D-N.Y.), which, like the Senate proposal, called for increases ranging from 7 percent to 22 percent. Addabbo's amendment, favored by much of the House Appropriations Committee, was rejected, 232 to 170, after more than two hours of debate.
The bill itself was then passed 396 to 1, with only Rep. Adam Benjamin Jr. (D-Ind.) dissenting, saying the nation couldn't afford the pay increase and that it discriminates against other government workers.
Most civilian government workers are scheduled to get a 4.8 percent pay increase Oct. 1.
Under the House bill, a military recruit would receive $573 a month, a sergeant with four years of service $854, a sergeant major with 22 years experience $1,896, a second lieutenant $1,056, a captain with six years experience $1,934, and a lieutenant colonel with 18 years service $2,945 a month.
Recruits, now paid $501, would get $536 a month under the Senate bill, while sergeant majors would get $1,974 and captains $1,928.
Both bills provide for a 14.3 percent increase in basic housing and subsistence allowances. They also call for increases in reimbursements for moving expenses, some hazardous duty allowances, flight pay, Reserve Officer Training Corps scholarships and some enlistment bonuses.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates the House pay bill would cost taxpayers $3.2 billion next year.
Rep. Donald J. Mitchell (R-N.Y.) argued the Senate bill would disappoint almost two-thirds of the 2 million men and women in the armed forces and "create chaos, confusion and inequity."
All sides in both the House and Senate debate agreed military pay increases are needed to put military pay on par with civilian.