Republicans will again try to slash defense secretary’s salary to $1

by Vern Evans

House Republicans will again try to slash Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s annual salary from $221,000 to just $1 in retaliation for a host of conservative complaints against current military policies.

An amendment to the chamber’s annual defense appropriations bill offered by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., over the weekend would mandate the salary change. It’s the second consecutive year she has offered the idea, which was adopted by House Republicans last fall but ultimately stripped out of the final legislation in negotiations with the Senate.

The pay reduction for the secretary of defense will be considered by the House Rules Committee on Tuesday and, if ruled in order, voted on by the full chamber later this week. It is one of more than 400 amendments to the $833.1 billion spending measure, many dealing with partisan fights and priorities.

Austin, 70, has been repeatedly attacked by Republicans in committee testimony and on the House floor over the last few years for the chaotic withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, the military’s diversity and equity policies, recruiting shortfalls in the ranks and COVID-19 vaccine policies.

In addition, several lawmakers demanded his resignation earlier this year after he hid his prostate cancer diagnosis from senior military officials and the White House, a move for which he has publicly apologized.

Democratic lawmakers have blasted the salary reductions as unrealistic and petty. If the proposal were to be adopted by the Republican-majority House again this year, it would likely again be blocked by the Democratic-majority Senate before becoming law. The White House could also veto any measure including the salary cut.

House leaders are hoping to finalize their draft of the annual military appropriations bill by the end of the week. Senate leaders have not announced a timeline for when they plan to advance their draft of the spending plan.

Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.

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