'Are these real patriots?': Trump teases most deployed division in the Army over first pay raise in years

  • President Donald Trump on Monday delivered a speech at Fort Drum in New York in which he teased soldiers over a pay increase they will receive via a $US716 billion defence spending bill.
  • The John S. McCain National Defence Authorization Act will give US service members a 2.6% pay raise, the first they have seen in nine years.
  • Trump at one point jokingly suggested the soldiers didn’t really want a pay raise because they’re too patriotic.

President Donald Trump on Monday delivered a speech at Fort Drum in New York in which he teased soldiers over a pay increase they will receive via a $US716 billion defence spending authorization bill.

The John S. McCain National Defence Authorization Act will give US service members a 2.6% pay raise, the first they have seen in nine years.

Trump boasted about this during his speech and described the defence package as “the most significant investment in our military and our war fighters in modern history.”

Trump at one point joked the soldiers didn’t really want the pay raise, suggesting they’re too patriotic to desire more money for national service.

“We are proudly giving our troops the biggest pay increase in a decade, and I know you don’t want it because you’re very patriotic. … Does anybody not want it? Please raise your hand,” Trump said.

When there wasn’t much of a response from the crowd of soldiers, who belong to the Army’s 10th Mountain Division (the most deployed division in the Army), Trump then said, “What’s going on here? Are these real patriots? I don’t know, general, I don’t know.”

Trump’s tone toward the soldiers was jocular, and he also repeatedly praised them for their service during his address.

The president signed the defence authorization bill on Monday following his speech.

The legislation was named after Republican Sen. John McCain, who’s widely respected for his military record as a veteran of the Vietnam War. Trump and McCain have often butted heads, and the president has made controversial comments over McCain’s time as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

McCain is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, but has often been missing from Congress over the past year or so after being diagnosed with brain cancer. Nonetheless, he has continued to influence legislative matters and remains a powerful figure in Washington.

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