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Mr. President, will you support the troops?

The Pretender in ChiefWashington, D.C. – In a letter to President Bush, House Democratic leaders today (Friday) called on the President to drop his opposition to Democratic plans to give troops the pay raise they deserve and increase benefits for surviving spouses of men and women in uniform. The letter was signed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn, Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton and Reps. Steve Israel and Ellen Tauscher. 

“When it comes to supporting our troops, our actions must match our words,” the leaders wrote. “Please join us in supporting our troops by reconsidering both your veto threat to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008, and your objections to an increase in military pay and survivor benefits for the brave men and women serving our country in the armed forces.”

The National Defense Authorization Act was overwhelmingly approved in the House of Representatives and contains provisions to raise troop pay and increase benefits for the families of fallen service members. President Bush has threatened to veto this legislation and has signaled his opposition to these provisions in a recent Statement of Administration Policy. Excerpts from the SAP are below:

“Special Survivor Indemnity Allowance: The Administration opposes section 644, which would pay a monthly special survivor indemnity allowance of $40  . . . the current benefit programs for survivors . .  . provide sufficient benefits.

“Military Pay: The Administration strongly opposes sections 601 and 606. The additional 0.5% increase above the President’s proposed 3.0 percent across-the-board pay increase is unnecessary.”

To read the Statement of Administration Position on the National Defense Authorization Act, visit here. The Democrats’ letter to the President is below.

May 18, 2007

Dear Mr. President,

We are writing to urge you to reconsider your objections to H.R. 1585, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008.

Your office’s recent Statement of Administration Policy on H.R. 1585 raised several concerns regarding this bipartisan legislation that the House of Representatives passed yesterday by an overwhelming 397-27 margin.

In particular, the Statement of Administration Policy on H.R. 1585 objected to sections 601 and 606, which raises military pay 0.5% above your proposal, and Section 644, which provides an extra $40 per month for surviving spouses of fallen members of our armed services.

Mr. President, you have consistently called on Congress and the American people to support our troops.  Considering the sacrifices that our military families make, the Democratic proposal to provide the troops with the pay raise they deserve and an increase in benefits for the spouses they may leave behind is one small way that we can support our troops.

When it comes to supporting our troops, our actions must match our words.  Please join us in supporting our troops by reconsidering both your veto threat to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008, and your objections to an increase in military pay and survivor benefits for the brave men and women serving our country in the armed forces.