Congress limited in helping military

By Tom Philpott: CNJ columnist

For the last eight years, lawmakers have loaded annual defense authorization bills with new pay and benefit initiatives to support troops and their families and to show the nation’s appreciation.

This year’s defense bills — both the version passed by the House, and the Senate bill to be debated on the floor after the holiday — call for a 3.4 percent military pay raise next January, continuing a string of increases that have surpassed private sector wage growth every year since 2000.

Otherwise, the fiscal 2010 defense bill is lighter than usual on significant personnel initiatives.