11 December 2013 Legislative News Update 

12/11/2013 

Legislative News is AUSA Government Affairs Directorate's
weekly electronic newsletter, and is published
every Monday when Congress is in session.




In this issue:

  • House & Senate Agreement Reached On Defense Policy Bill

★★★
 

HOUSE AND SENATE AGREEMENT REACHED ON DEFENSE POLICY BILL

After reaching a somewhat controversial agreement on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal 2014, leadership from the House and Senate Armed Services Committees want it pushed through both chambers with any amendments. 

The legislation is essentially a combination of the House bill which passed on June 14 and the Senate’s bill that was voted out of committee on the same day. A summary of the bill released by the House Armed Services Committee explains the process:  “Because passing this legislation before the end of the calendar year is vital, these two products were merged through a series of negotiations at all levels of the House and Senate.  Negotiators also considered, and in many cases included, a number of proposals offered by members of both parties that were intended for consideration by the full Senate.”

The plan is not sitting well with some members of the Senate because of the lack of debate on amendments.  Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., criticized efforts to push the bill through Congress without amendments.  Sen. Graham raised the possibility of pushing the bill into next year.

However, Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., said “If this bill is amended in either the House or the Senate it just isn’t going to pass.”

The legislation would authorize $552.1 billion in spending for national defense and an additional $80.7 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations.

A huge win for AUSA and its partners in The Military Coalition is the fact that the legislation would reject all proposals to increase TRICARE fees or establish new TRICARE fees.  A House Armed Services Committee statement said that “Congress has already put TRICARE on a sustainable path through reforms in several recent NDAAs.

Those reforms connect TRICARE fee increases to retiree cost of living increases. DOD’s record of incorrectly calculating TRICARE costs and their repeated requests to transfer billions in unused funds out of the program to cover other underfunded defense priorities raises questions about repeated claims by the Department of Defense that the Defense Health Program is unsustainable.”

 Once the bill is passed, more details will be provided.