AUSA fights for legislation that supports Association members

AUSA fights for legislation that supports Association members

Friday, February 1, 2013

At last the Fiscal Year 2013 Defense Authorization Bill conference is over and the two houses of Congress will have voted on the bill and presumably send it to the president for signature by the time you read this column.The bill includes a 1.7 percent basic pay raise for military service members and extends TRICARE Standard coverage and TRICARE dental coverage for an additional 180 days for members of the Selected Reserve who are involuntarily separated.As AUSA urged, the conferees also included the House version of the TRICARE pharmacy co-pay increases rather the more onerous administration request.They also maintained the TRICARE fee increases at no more than the cost of living increases rather than the higher fee increases proposed by the administration.Also, by the time you read this, the first session of the 113th Congress will have begun and the president’s State of the Union Address will be about to occur.The Congress will be preparing to receive the budget request for FY 2014 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 since this fiscal year still is being funded by a continuing resolution four months into the year.If the past few years are any indication, it is not likely that the new Congress will do any better.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 33 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:Maintaining pay parity between the military and civilian sectorsFull concurrent receipt for all disabled retireesEnding the Survivor Benefit Plan/Dependency and Indemnity Compensation offset for survivorsLimiting increases in TRICARE fees/deductibles to COLA increasesProhibiting TRICARE for Life enrollment feesRetaining the current retirement systemMaintaining funded Army operational end strength at 650,000; active component, 520,000; Army National Guard, 360,000; Army Reserve, 215,000Maintaining assured access to the reserve componentIncreasing funding for spare parts, maintenance and trainingFull funding for resetting the Current ForceMaintaining defense spending of at least 4 percent of GDP/Army share of at least 28 percentProviding pay and benefits for reserve component personnel and their families that are commensurate with their active duty counterpartsThese are just some of the legislative issues that will be part of the AUSA agenda for 2013.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 website – www.ausa.org – to speak out on issues of importance.We will try to 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 that Congress is in session.If you are not yet receiving the newsletter, just send an e-mail to [email protected].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.