Director, Government Affairs
Although I had hoped to report that defense authorization and appropriations legislation was, at last, complete, that is not the case.
The defense appropriations legislation is still not out of conference and may not be until very near the end of the congressional session in December.
The bill appears to be held up as a potential carrier of either a "minibus" that would consolidate all appropriations funding not yet completed or national debt ceiling increase legislation – or both!
So the enormous change in Washington that occurred a year ago with a Democratic president in the White House and an even more Democratic-controlled Congress at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue has not resulted in a smooth and quick appropriations process.
Meanwhile, as AUSA NEWS reported last month, after each Annual Meeting, on-line voting for the next year’s AUSA resolutions begins.
This year’s voting has been completed and 117 chapters out of 122 participated in the process. This is an amazing advance for grassroots activity because when we began the online vote several years ago, 45 chapters participated.
Is it important that AUSA’s chapters overwhelming adopted its 2010 resolutions?
Yes, because the resolutions provide the framework for the Association’s legislative agenda for the coming year.
The 2010 resolutions highlight the fact that these are difficult economic times and with the federal deficit increasing to record heights, there will be attempts to decrease defense spending. In reality, given the current and future challenges, defense spending must be increased.
The resolutions also thank Congress for the strides made in pay, compensation, health care, retirement, survivor programs, housing, readiness, procurement and transformation but noted that more remains to be done such as closing the gap between military and civilian pay and better compensation and health care packages for the National Guard and Army Reserve.
AUSA will work for a defense budget that increases to 5 percent of gross domestic product from the current 4 percent and increases the Army’s share of the defense budget from 24 percent to 28 percent.
AUSA believes that the nation must fund an increase in the size of the active Army to 700,000; the Army National Guard to 371,000 and the Army Reserve to 215,000.
The 2010 resolutions can be seen online at www.ausa.org by clicking on Government Affairs and then on "Our Resolutions – 2010."
These resolutions will guide the Association’s efforts on the Hill during the second session of the 111th Congress.
We will be calling on you to add your voice to ours as we seek to help our great Army and its members and their families.
So, during this holiday season, the Government Affairs Directorate – Romney, Julie and I – wish you and yours a successful and safe New Year.
We ask that you remember those who serve our nation in the armed forces and especially the families of those who lost their lives or were injured, and consider how lucky we are to live in a representative democracy where political power changes peacefully.