Skip to content

Ernst, Warren Seek to Rectify Unequal Pay for Servicemembers

Bipartisan legislation ensures equal compensation among senior enlisted servicemembers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, introduced the bipartisan Leadership Recognition Act to ensure appropriate compensation for enlisted servicemembers.

Except for seven senior enlisted positions, enlisted personnel do not receive a pay increase as their responsibility levels grow, creating great discrepancies. For example, the Senior Enlisted Adviser To The Chairman Of The Joint Chiefs Of Staff gets paid more than the Senior Enlisted Adviser to the Commander of Pacific Command, even though they both are the same rank with equivalent levels of responsibility.

Additionally, each year troops are mandated to receive a pay raise that matches the Employment Cost Index, unless the president cites economic concerns or a national emergency. Unfortunately, previous presidents have cited economic concerns to deny troops their pay raise while simultaneously claiming a growing economy publicly; and the FY’18 budget request for a pay raise does not match the Employment Cost Index.

The Leadership Recognition Act addresses these discrepancies by ensuring fair compensation among senior enlisted advisors and removes the president’s ability to block pay raises by citing economic concerns.

“Senior enlisted servicemembers carry a great responsibility leading our men and women on and off the battlefield, and we must ensure they receive appropriate compensation as we seek to retain them and strengthen our military,” said Senator Ernst, a combat veteran. “Likewise, it is important that we are able to recruit servicemembers by giving troops a pay raise that matches the Employment Cost Index in the private sector. I am glad to partner with my colleague, Senator Warren, to ensure our troops are receiving the compensation they deserve for serving our great nation.”

"Our men and women in uniform? serve this country with honor,” said Senator Warren.  “They know they won't get rich in the military, but they serve with skill and dedication, and they are entitled to basic pay increases that will give them a chance to build some economic security. I'm glad to partner with my Armed Services colleague Senator Ernst to offer a bipartisan bill that recognizes the important work of our enlisted personnel."

To read the full text of the bill, click here.

Additionally, this legislation has received support from the American Legion, the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States, and the Military Officers Association of America.

About the Leadership Recognition Act:

  • States that senior enlisted advisors to the commanders of the combatant commands shall receive equivalent monthly pay to the senior enlisted advisors to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
  • Directs the Secretary of Defense to carry out a study on what other positions should receive an elevation in base pay that have an equivalent responsibility level to the seven enlisted personnel that must receive increased base pay due to their level of responsibility.
  • Strikes the president’s ability to cite economic concerns when using his authority to deny troops their mandated pay raise in future years.