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Statement on Signing Bill Authorizing Extension of the Draft and Increases in Military Pay.

September 28, 1971

TODAY I am signing into law H.R. 6531. This legislation achieves two objectives of major significance:

--It is a significant step toward an all volunteer armed force, as it remedies the long-standing inequities in military pay for the lower grades.

--It introduces important, additional reforms of the draft, making it as fair and equitable as possible as we progress toward the volunteer force.

I am most hopeful that this is the last time a President must sign an extension of draft induction authority. Although it will remain necessary to retain a standby draft system in the interest of national security, this Administration is committed to achieving the reforms in military life as well as the public support for our Armed Forces which will make possible an end to peacetime conscription. The more equitable pay scales provided by this act are essential to achieving this goal.

Much of the money authorized by this bill will be used to raise the pay of first term recruits, whose pay scales have been unconscionably low. A married man without children who has just completed basic training and lives off the military base now receives only $255 a month, including his allowances. Under this new law, he will receive $450 a month. A single man living on base who now receives $149 will receive $299 under this new law.

By law the pay increases provided in this act are subject to the 90-day wage price freeze. I should further point out that under a plan I have previously submitted to the Congress the annual comparability pay adjustment for the military, like the Federal civilian employees pay adjustment, will take effect July 1, 1972, rather than on January 1, 1971. However, these short deferrals will not materially impair our ability to achieve an all-volunteer force.

I thank the Congress for its cooperation in enacting this legislation. In particular, I want to express my own gratitude and that of the Nation for the fine leadership of Senators John Stennis and Margaret Chase Smith and Congressmen F. Edward Hebert and Leslie C. Arends, who conducted the most penetrating hearings on the draft since 1948, and skillfully guided this legislation to final passage.

Note: As enacted, H.R. 6531 is Public Law 92-129 (85 Stat. 348).

On the same day, the White House released an announcement outlining the provisions of the bill.

Richard Nixon, Statement on Signing Bill Authorizing Extension of the Draft and Increases in Military Pay. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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