17 September 2012 Legislative News Update 

9/17/2012 

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




In this issue:

  • Seqestration Impact Report Released
  • Continuing Resolution Passes House. Awaits Senate Action
  • Stolen Valor Act Heads to Senate
  • Paper Discusses Earned Military Compensation

★★★
 

SEQUESTRATION IMPACT REPORT RELEASED

The White House released a highly-anticipated report last week that outlines the impact automatic spending cuts set to begin in January would have on defense and domestic programs.  

Unfortunately, the Defense Department would take the largest hit of any single department, with a 9.4 percent reduction in non-exempt discretionary spending that amounts to a $55 billion cut for defense programs.  

The report said that sequestration would have a “devastating impact on important defense and nondefense programs.  While the Department of Defense would be able to shift funds to ensure war fighting and critical military readiness capabilities were not degraded, sequestration would result in a reduction in readiness of many non-deployed units, delays in investments in new equipment and facilities, cutbacks in equipment repairs, declines in military research and development efforts, and reductions in base services for military families.”  

Cuts to weapons systems were not detailed in the report, but they would be made at the same 9.4 percent level.  The top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee John McCain, R-Ariz., released letters from top defense industry leaders who outlined the devastating effect sequestration would have on their businesses.  The industry leaders were responding to a query from McCain and six colleagues on the committee about the automatic cuts' impact.

The responses universally described the immense personnel and program disruption sequestration would have on their companies.  Some of the companies are already seeing the effects of the impending cuts in a slowdown of contract awards and difficulty in recruiting and retaining skilled workers.

In an effort to address sequestration, the House passed a bill last week that would require the President to submit to Congress by Oct. 15 a plan to replace the defense cuts with other spending reductions.  However, the measure would not allow the plan to include revenue increases, a key point contained in the Democratic plans to address the sequester.

In any event, it is guaranteed that a solution to sequestration will not occur until after the November elections.  Although Congress only returned from their August recess last week, they will depart again on Friday and will not return until Nov. 13.

 
CONTINUING RESOLUTION PASSES HOUSE. AWAITS SENATE ACTION

Legislation that would fund the government through March 27, 2013 easily passed the House last week.  

Overall, the continuing resolution (CR) provides spending for the first six months of fiscal 2013 at an annualized rate of $1.047 trillion for discretionary spending, which matches the caps set in the 2011 Budget Control Act.  The plan exceeds fiscal 2012 spending by $8 billion.

The bill provides $88.5 billion in war-related funding for Overseas Contingency Operations, the amount requested by the Administration. 

 It also contains provisions that would:

 •Allow the Defense Department to acquire supplies in other countries for use in Afghanistan. 

•Allow additional funding for nuclear weapons modernization efforts, to ensure the safety, security, and reliability of the nation’s nuclear stockpile.

•Allow additional funding for the Veterans Administration to meet an increase in the disability claims workload. 

•Extend the current pay freeze for federal employees, which include members of Congress.

Although the House passed seven of the 12 regular spending bills, the Senate failed to pass any of their bills.  They are expected to clear the CR this week.

STOLEN VALOR ACT HEADS TO SENATE

AUSA-supported legislation that makes it a crime to knowingly benefit from lies about receiving military awards passed the House last week.  

The Stolen Valor Act of 2011 (H.R. 1775), introduced by Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., makes a key change to the Stolen Valor Act of 2005 which was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court on the grounds that it infringed upon free speech rights. 

It is expected that Rep. Heck's bill will withstand constitutional scrutiny because the legislation narrowly focuses on those who seek to benefit from their misrepresentations of receiving military awards - not the lie itself.  

The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.  A companion measure has been introduced by Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass.

PAPER DISCUSSES EARNED MILITARY COMPENSATION

AUSA’s Institute of Land Warfare (ILW) has produced a National Security Watch that addresses calls to reform the wide range of compensation earned by military personnel.  

The paper touches on four key points:

1. No amount of reform to military earnings—even comprehensive, systemic reform—could ever make more than a symbolic dent in the nation’s budget and debt crises.

2. Proposed fee hikes or access restrictions for TRICARE are only temporary half-measures that do not address the root causes of cost growth and do not meaningfully “stabilize” account growth.

3. The main purpose of the military compensation system is to help guarantee military readiness.  It is worth paying a premium to ensure that the expertise and professionalism of the force endures.

4. It is unfair to make drastic reforms to military earnings (or to make evolutionary reforms that have a drastic impact over time) that have a substantially negative impact on real people but have a comparatively tiny positive impact toward their intended aims.

As part of our continuing campaign to keep Congress informed on issues important to the association and its members, AUSA sent a copy of the National Security Watch to all members and key staff of the defense oversight committees.  

 

To view the document, click here.