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Clinton OKs Pay Hike for Military, Stalking Penalties

September 24, 1996| From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The nation's soldiers got a raise Monday, and stalkers will face stricter penalties, as President Clinton approved $256.6 billion in defense spending.

The legislation, signed in an Oval Office ceremony, sets aside $11.2 billion more for national defense than Clinton had requested. Most of the money will go to buy more weapons and research new ones.

Clinton said the upgrades are necessary "to ensure that our country remains the strongest force for peace and freedom in the world."

"It gives us the technological edge to prevail on the battlefields of tomorrow," Clinton said.

The defense authorization legislation also strengthens federal laws against stalking, making it a crime to cross state lines for the purpose of harassing or stalking someone.

The anti-stalking provision makes interstate stalking and harassment a federal crime regardless of whether the victim previously obtained a protection order. It sets penalties of up to five years in prison for harassment to life in prison for bodily injury.

Clinton's main motive for signing the defense legislation was to provide a 3% pay increase for military personnel and a 4.6% increase in the allowance for off-base living quarters. The pay raise, effective Jan. 1, adds $26 to a month's pay for the average private. A captain in the Navy or a colonel in the other services would get an extra $156 a month.

The bill authorizes $256.6 billion for national defense during the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, a $1.3-billion increase over this year's budget.

The $11.2 billion approved above Clinton's request includes $3.4 billion for four Aegis radar-equipped destroyers, $2.2 billion for production models of an enhanced Navy FA-18 jet fighter and $2 billion to continue developing the Air Force F-22 fighter.

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