(by Joe Newby, EXAMINER.com) -- On Sunday, Newsmax reported that President Obama informed Congress that he will cap military pay raises at one percent in 2014, despite a federal law requiring those raises to keep pace with the Employment Cost Index compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Instead of the 1.8 percent pay raise that law calls for -- an amount passed by the GOP-led House -- Obama will approve only one percent.
But, Newsmax said, the law also says the president can inform Congress of an alternative pay adjustment "if because of national emergency or serious economic conditions affecting the general welfare, the president considers the pay adjustment which would otherwise be required by this section in any year to be inappropriate."
News of the move comes as Obama is attempting to build support for a military strike against Syria over an alleged chemical strike.
"I am strongly committed to supporting our uniformed service members, who have made such great contributions to our nation over the past decade of war. As our country continues to recover from serious economic conditions affecting the general welfare, however, we must maintain efforts to keep our nation on a sustainable fiscal course," he told congressional leaders.
He also claimed his decision "will not materially affect the federal government's ability to attract and retain well-qualified members" of the military.
Congress can override Obama's order, the Navy Times said, but that requires finding $580 million in 2014 and $3.5 billion over five years to make up the difference between the 1.8 percent they approved, and the paltry one percent approved by Obama.
Obama has also demanded the military pay more for health coverage, threatening to veto defense authorization bills unless service members are required to dig deeper into their own pockets for healthcare.
The president's move could hurt military readiness and retention, said retired Air Force Col. Mike Hayden, director of government relations for the Military Officers Association of America
"History has shown that once Congress starts accepting proposals to cap military pay below private-sector growth, pay caps continue until they have weakened retention and readiness," he said.