Kiggans Votes to Boost Servicemember Pay, Refocus Pentagon on Delivering Combat-Ready Forces

WASHINGTON, DC: Today, Congresswoman Jen Kiggans (VA-02) released the below statement following the passage of H.R. 8774, the Defense Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2025, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 217-198. This legislation appropriates more than $800 billion for critical defense programs, military personnel, operations and procurement, and further advancements for defense innovations.

“I came to Congress determined to give our military men and women the resources, tools, and support they need to carry out their mission and protect our country,” said Congresswoman Kiggans. “Of all the responsibilities given to Congress by the Constitution, providing for our common defense is the greatest. The world is a dangerous place right now and our national defense must be our top priority. 

“In total, this legislation includes a one percent increase for our nation’s defense. I believe this is insufficient and more is needed to ensure our military can remain the best in the world. However, while reflecting the budget caps that are law of the land, today’s bill still takes real and important steps toward enhancing our military capabilities, supporting our servicemembers and their families, prioritizing modernization efforts to keep up with our adversaries, supporting our allies, and training and equipping our warfighters.

“I am particularly proud of the pay increase for our servicemembers included in this legislation. If this bill is signed into law, all 150,200 of Virginia’s servicemembers would see a 4.5% pay increase, and junior enlisted members would see an additional 15% pay increase…! At a time when we are facing a military recruitment and retention crisis, we can’t afford not to prioritize compensation for those who selflessly serve our country.

“A lot of hard work went into this legislation, which strategically refocuses the Pentagon on its core mission: supporting our servicemembers and their families and delivering combat-ready military forces that can maintain peace through strength…! As a former Navy helicopter pilot, military spouse, and mother to children who serve, I was proud to support this bill and will continue to be the loudest voice in Congress for our military men and women!”

Background

The Defense Appropriations Act provides a total discretionary allocation of $833.053 billion, which is $8.57 billion above the Fiscal Year 2024 level and consistent with the limit set in law by the Fiscal Responsibility Act. 

Congresswoman Kiggans secured several priorities in the original text of the legislation, including but not limited to:

  • $2 million increase for optimized future base design
  • Funds multi-service advanced capability Hypersonics test bed (MACH-TB) to the maximum extent practical
  • $36.2 million increase for Strategic Capabilities Office’s Project Pele mobile microreactor
  • $14.5 million included for United States Special Operations Command maritime precision strike munitions
  • $4 million increase for the Young Marines Program

Additionally, all eight of the amendments offered by the Congresswoman passed by voice and were incorporated into the final legislation, including two amendments to promote increasing TriCare reimbursement rates for pharmacies and mental health providers. These amendments express the need to take the financial burden off servicemembers and allow for more mental health providers to care for men and women in uniform.

Other highlights of the legislation include but are not limited to:

  • Provides for our servicemembers and their families by funding a 4.5% pay raise for all military personnel and providing $2.5 billion for an additional 15% pay increase for junior enlisted servicemembers.
  • Prioritizes the fight against China by preventing the early retirement of three ships and retaining the U-2 and certain F-15s, rejecting the Biden Administration’s naval and air force divestment plans.
  • Allocates $4 billion for the Submarine Industrial Base to build on the $4 billion invested in FY24 in critical areas, including supplier capacity and capability, strategic outsourcing, workforce training, and technology and infrastructure.
  • Enhances DOD’s role in countering the flow of illicit fentanyl and synthetic opioids by allocation $1.14 billion for drug interdiction and counterdrug activities, which is $242 million above the President’s Budget Request.
  • Focuses the Department on its core responsibilities by cutting $18 billion from the President’s Budget Request and redirecting that funding to address warfighting needs, counter China, and support our servicemembers and their families.
  • Supports our close ally Israel by providing $500 million for the Israeli Cooperative Missile Defense Programs and prohibiting funds to withhold the delivery of defense articles and defense services from the United States to Israel.
  • Supports the Pacific Deterrence Initiative, which enhances U.S. military capabilities in the Indo-Pacific region, including funding for several INDOPACOM unfunded priorities. 
  • Allocates $3.3 billion for the continued development of the Air Force’s Next Generation Air Dominance Program.
  • Promotes innovation and modernizes our military by investing in next-generation fighter aircraft, helicopters, tactical combat vehicles, and submarines and supporting the modernization of the nuclear triad: the B-21 Raider, the Columbia Class Submarine, and Sentinel.
  • Allocates $903.9 million for the continued development of the Navy’s Conventional Prompt Strike program.

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