Defense Authorization Act clears HASC, goes to full House

Defense Authorization Act clears HASC, goes to full House

Monday, June 4, 2018

The fiscal 2019 National Defense Authorization Act cleared another hurdle May 10, when it passed out of the House Armed Services Committee on a 60-1 vote.

The legislation:

  • Provides a 2.6 percent pay increase, which would be the largest since 2010
  • Does not include any new health care fees for TRICARE beneficiaries
  • Adds 4,000 soldiers to the Army’s end strength
  • Blocks scheduled cuts to housing allowances (BAH)
  • Automatically covers service members who are enrolled in Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) at less than full coverage, for the full $400,000 benefit
  • Does not authorize an additional Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) round but provides limited authority for the defense secretary to close or realign a military installation if the secretary receives a notification from the governor of a state or territory recommending the realignment or closure of a military installation in their state or territory
  • Directs the Secretary of the Army to take steps to extend the life of Arlington National Cemetery
  • Enhances ongoing military health system organizational reforms by ensuring no military treatment facility will be closed or downgraded until the completion of the transition from the services to the Defense Health Agency

The panel also approved Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry’s proposal that requires the Department of Defense to cut support agencies and activities by 25 percent.

Thornberry’s original proposal would have eliminated many more offices.

Instead, the version lawmakers agreed on would require the chief management officer to either “validate the usefulness” of each back-office agency, or propose its elimination. The CMO would submit a report on the agencies to Congress by March 2020.

NOTE: The committee’s approval of the legislation is just another step in the process. Before the bill becomes law, it will require debate and a vote by the full House.

After the Senate votes on its version of the policy bill, the two measures will go to conference committee to hammer out the differences. Both chambers will vote on the negotiated version and the final bill goes to the president for signature.