Director, Government Affairs
The Congress has beaten me again.
It is mid-December, my column deadline is here, we are almost three months into the new fiscal year and the Defense Appropriations Bill is still not signed. It now has the dubious honor of being the only appropriations bill still unsigned.
It is being held up to carry other "must sign" legislation so the presumption is that it will be passed before Dec. 31. By the time you read this you will know!
Also by the time you read this, the second session of the 111th Congress will have begun and the president’s State of the Union address will be about to occur. Congress will be preparing to receive the budget request for FY 2011 in early February.
One can only guess if Congress will be able to complete the appropriations process by the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30. If the past few years are any indication, it is not likely.
Apparently nine months is just not long enough to birth money, especially when you factor in the President’s Day recess, the Spring recess, the Memorial Day recess, the July Fourth recess, and the August recess which, in essence, reduce the nine months to six months.
Regardless of the speed with which Congress marches, AUSA will be offering testimony, making visits to members of Congress and joining with the 34 other organizations in The Military Coalition – all to make our voice for the soldier heard in the halls of the Capitol.
We will be working to promote enactment of legislation that will benefit our membership. Even with successes during the last Congress, there are many issues that remain:
Accelerating recent progress in closing the pay gap between the military and civilian sectors
Full concurrent receipt for all disabled retirees
Ending the Survivor Benefit Plan/Dependency and Indemnity Compensation offset for survivors
Preventing increases in TRICARE fees/deductibles
Increasing funded Army end strength – active 700,000; Army National Guard, 371,000; Army Reserve, 215,000
Increasing funding for spare parts, maintenance and training
Support for reconstituting and resetting the Current Force
Rebalancing Army capabilities to strengthen readiness
Increasing defense spending to at least 5 percent of GDP/Army share of at least 28 percent
Developing the Future Force for the transforming Army
Providing pay and benefits for reserve component personnel and their families that are commensurate with their active duty counterparts
Reducing the age for reserve retirement benefits to age 55
These are just some of the legislative issues that will be part of the AUSA agenda for 2010.
In the next few months, as the legislative session revs up, we will urge you to use the prepared letters in the Legislative Action Center of the AUSA Web site – www.ausa.org – to speak out on issues of importance.
We will keep you informed through AUSA NEWS and ARMY Magazine, as well as through our electronic legislative newsletter which will arrive via e-mail each Friday Congress is in session.
If you are not yet receiving the newsletter, just send an e-mail to email@example.com.
The Directorate of Government Affairs hopes that you had a joyous holiday season and are well on the way to a glorious New Year.
AUSA’s holiday gift to you is the promise to continue to be the Voice for the Army providing Support for the Soldier.