The House of Representatives has approved their version of the FY 2006 Military Authorization Act (HR 1815). The Senate Armed Services Committee has approved the Senate version (S 1042), but floor debate has been delayed due to Senate politics.
Once the full Senate approves the senate version of the bill, the differences in the two bills will be worked out in a House/Senate conference committee. Then the compromised bills are voted on by the full House and full Senate, and -- if approved -- go to the President for signature.
One factor which is not in contention is the annual raise amount for military base pay. Both versions of the bill authorize an across-the-board base pay increase of 3.1 percent, which makes it pretty much a "done deal."
Even if the FY 2006 Military Authorizaton Act is not signed into law before January 1, the raise in base pay will still take effect. This is because of a law passed four years ago which regulates military pay raises through FY 2006. Under this law, if Congress does not approve a different amount, the military base pay raise is automatically set at one percent below the CPI. Coincidently, this just happens to be 3.1 percent, which is the same amount contained in both versions of the bill. In short, the 3.1 percent raise in military base pay will happen on January 1, whether or not Congress passes the Authorization Act before then.
This is the second year in a row that Congress did not "target" the pay raise by giving some ranks a higher raise percentage than other ranks. In FY 2004, the average pay raise was 4.1 percent, but some members received as little as 3.7 percent, while others received as much as 6.25 percent. In 2005, all members received a base pay raise of 3.5 percent.