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AUSA Focus Areas: Help shape our 2018 legislative agenda

Monday, November 20, 2017

The month of December will be tumultuous and hair-raising in Congress.

As the clock ticks toward December 8, time is running out for new appropriations to fund our government and our Army.

The continuing resolution (CR) that has kept the government running since October 1 will expire at midnight on December 8.

There is talk on Capitol Hill of a second CR that will extend the deadline to after Christmas, but not past New Year’s Day. This might provide the breathing room Congress needs to come up with an omnibus spending bill to fund the government for the remaining three-quarters of the fiscal year.

AUSA is hoping Congress can finish this critical appropriations bill before the first of the year so our Army can continue rebuilding readiness and increase the size of the force.

The level of spending that will be in the final defense bill is still highly uncertain.

The Budget Control Act budget caps are still in place, and a final agreement must be made to increase those caps.

Both the president’s budget request and the amount authorized by the Armed Services committees exceed the caps significantly. If the caps aren’t raised, then sequestration will remove any funding that surpasses the caps.

The Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) defense appropriations bill is the close fight.

While this drama plays out, the deep battle requires AUSA to look ahead to next year. As you may recall, we have replaced our resolutions process with Focus Areas. The goal is to identify 10 Focus Areas on which AUSA Government Affairs should concentrate its efforts in 2018.

Each of the AUSA region presidents has appointed a Focus Areas regional representative, and AUSA national will work with them to develop our Focus Areas for 2018.

Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to communicate to your AUSA chapter president your concerns and recommendations for topics.

Chapter presidents will forward your member input up the chain to be used by the Focus Area regional representatives. The region representatives will review the input across their region, and distill the most critical items requiring legislative action. The region presidents will then weigh in before submitting the input to AUSA national.

At the AUSA national headquarters, we will consolidate the input from the region presidents, and combine it with what we learn from the Army’s FY19 budget request, their Unfunded Requirements List (UFR), and the Army Posture Statement.

We intend for the Focus Areas to reflect the key strategic Army issues across the Regular Army, National Guard, Army Reserve, Army civilians, retirees, veterans and Army families.

The result by the end of February will be 10 Focus Areas for 2018. These areas will form the cornerstone of our AUSA legislative campaign plan.

Do you want to make a difference for our Army?

Then tell your chapter president what’s on your mind. Don’t delay – do it today. Let your voice be part of AUSA’s “Voice for the Army, Support for the Soldier.”

See you on the high ground.