23 September 2013 Legislative News Update 


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

In this issue:

  • Eight Days In September



The train of irresponsibility is speeding down the track. 

Eight days until the federal government shuts down unless Congress reaches a deal on a measure that would keep it funded until mid-December (then we will do it all again).

The House passed a continuing resolution (CR) on Friday that doesn’t stand a chance of passing in the Senate because of a provision they added that defunds the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).  After a lot of wrangling, the Senate will probably strip the provision, pass the bill and send it back to the House.  What action they House takes then will decide whether or not the government shuts down at midnight on Sept. 30.  If the House decides to pass the measure, minus the defunding of the health care law, then the lights stay on.  If not…well, you know the rest of the story.

Following closely on the heels of the CR battle will be debate and passage of a measure that raises the debt ceiling.  The government runs out money in mid-October.  The debt limit is the total amount of money that the United States government is authorized to borrow to meet its existing legal obligations.  Both sides of the aisle are digging in their heels on this one also.

Folks, Congress can’t even pass these short-term spending measures much less routine spending bills without engaging in a game of fiscal chicken.  Meanwhile the monster also known as sequestration continues.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno joined the other service chiefs at a hearing before the House Armed Services Committee last week.  He was asked if sequestration continues, could the services meet the requirements necessary to comply with the minimal defense strategic guidance of 2012. 

Gen. Odierno said, “I believe at full sequestration we cannot meet the defense strategic guidance.  In fact, it's my opinion that we would struggle to even meet one major contingency operation.  It depends on assumptions.  And I believe some of the assumptions that were made were not good assumptions.  They are very unrealistic and very positive assumptions.  And for that, they would all have to come true for us to even come close to being able to meet that guidance.”

That’s the bottom line.

As long as Congress remains mired in this game of partisan posturing, the Defense Department will continue to deal with the budget uncertainty and unrealistic spending cuts.  Further, this continued dysfunction keeps us from advocating for those issues important to us and our members such as full concurrent receipt, the end of the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP)/Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) offset and the Doc Fix. 

In a meeting at the Pentagon last week, AUSA President Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, USA, Ret., was told bluntly by top Defense leadership that the only way to get the message to Congress that they MUST fix this mess is for their constituents, in large numbers, contact them and demand that they do so.

We, at AUSA, can only provide the message and ask for your help.  It is up to you to heed the call.  Visit the Legislative Agenda page on AUSA’s website www.ausa.org.  Click on the “Contact Congress” link and then on the prepared letter “Stop Sequestration Now” to let your representatives and senators know that it is time to act.