4 February 2013 Legislative News Update 

2/4/2013 

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




In this issue:

  • No Way To Do Business
  • New Legislation Spotlight
  • AUSA On The Hill

★★★
 

NO WAY TO DO BUSINESS

We've talked, written and ranted about it for months and now the effects are being felt.  What is it?  The double-whammy of sequestration and a possible year-long continuing resolution and the effect it is having on the Army.  

Army Secretary John McHugh and Gen. Ray Odierno, Army Chief of Staff, have released a memo outlining actions to be taken immediately by the Commands to slow spending.  “Given the magnitude of our budgetary uncertainty, the Army must act now to reduce our expenditure rate and mitigate budget execution risks in order to avoid even more serious future fiscal shortfalls,” the memo stated.

Commanders are instructed to reduce base operating funding to achieve at least a 30 percent reduction.  This cut impacts depot maintenance, modernization and training as well as community and recreational activities. The memo also implements an Army-wide civilian hiring freeze and terminates all temporary employees.

One would hope that such disruption to a force still at war would galvanize Congress into resolving the mess quickly.  However, all signs seem to indicate that the sequestration will start on 1 March.  

Under the sequester, spending would be reduced by an estimated $85 billion during the remaining seven months of fiscal 2013, including a $43 billion reduction in defense spending.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., and Ranking Member Richard Shelby, R-Ala., are at least talking about a plan to replace the automatic budget cuts.  However, a resolution is not imminent. The GOP will not entertain tax increases while the Democrats do not want to see any spending cuts to entitlement programs.  

We were not encouraged by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., who said on Jan. 30, “There have been no decisions at all about the sequester.  And it’s premature to get ahead of ourselves, especially since it doesn’t go into effect for . . . well over a month.”  

NEW LEGISLATION SPOTLIGHT

House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller and Ranking Member Mike Michaud introduced AUSA-supported legislation (H.R. 357) that would require schools eligible for GI Bill education benefits to give veterans in-state tuition rates even though they may not be residents of the states where the schools are located.

“The men and women who served this nation did not just defend the citizens of their home states, but the citizens of all 50 states.  As such, the educational benefits they receive from the taxpayers should reflect that,” said Chairman Miller.  “By offering in-state tuition, servicemembers can attend an institution of higher learning that meets their specific needs without worrying about higher costs which non-residents often must pay.”

“Because of the nature of military service, veterans often have a difficult time establishing residency for purposes of obtaining in-State tuition rates,” said Rep. Michaud.  “This bill will address this problem and ensure that veterans can access the affordable higher education options they have earned.”

AUSA ON THE HILL

This week, the AUSA Government Affairs team will fan out over Capitol Hill to deliver information packets to over one hundred new member offices.  

It is vitally important for AUSA to establish relationships with new members to ensure that they and their defense and veterans legislative assistants are aware of our position on issues that affect our members and the Army.  

Note of interest:  The 113th Congress has the fewest military veterans since World War II.  Nineteen percent are veterans, with 85 in the House and 19 in the Senate.  As many of the veterans from World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War retire, veterans who served in Afghanistan and Iraq are beginning to take their places.  Nine new House members will join the seven reelected veterans who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan.