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US lawmakers vote to slash Pentagon chief’s pay

New amendment seeks to cut salary of US defense chief Lloyd Austin to $1 a year

US House Republicans have voiced their frustration over the nation’s recent military struggles by passing an amendment that calls for reducing Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s salary to less than $1 a year.

The amendment to the Pentagon appropriations bill, which would slash Austin’s pay from his current rate of more than $221,000 annually, was passed by the House on Wednesday. The measure won’t likely be enacted – given that the bill also must get through the Democrat-controlled Senate and be signed by President Joe Biden – but at least symbolically, it marks another Republican rebuke of the nation’s current military leadership.

“Many Americans agree: We do not want the United States’ military led by failure, causing us to be weak,” said Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia), who introduced the amendment. She later posted a statement hailing the measure’s passage, saying, “Under his failed leadership, our military is being destroyed, and he doesn’t deserve to serve any longer.”

Greene and other Republicans cited a series of alleged Pentagon blunders in recent years, including the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021, recruiting shortfalls, and a Covid-19 vaccination mandate that was rescinded amid a legal challenge.

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Wednesday’s amendment marked the first time since Biden took office in January 2021 that lawmakers have used the Holman rule against a member of his administration. The ploy, first implemented in 1876, allows amendments to spending bills to reduce the pay of specific employees, fire them or cut government programs. Such amendments require that none of the spending approved in the legislation be used to pay the specified employee – or fund the targeted program – in excess of the amount stipulated by House members.

In addition to Austin, Republican lawmakers targeted the pay of several other Biden administration employees with Holman amendments, including the Pentagon’s director of diversity and inclusion, the military’s chief diversity officer, and a Department of Agriculture official who boosted spending on food stamps.

Representative Betty McCollumn (D-Minnesota) argued that Austin didn’t deserve to be punished because of partisan conflicts. “You may disagree with the administration’s policies, as we all have done over the years with different administrations, but Secretary Austin has done nothing to merit this,” she said. “There’s no need for us to make such a personal, drastic attack by eliminating his pay.”

September 28, 2023 at 03:43AM

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