20 November 2014 Legislative News Update
weekly electronic newsletter, and is published
every Monday when Congress is in session.
In this issue:
- Authorization Bill On Pause
- Defense Secretary & AUSA President: End The Threat Of Sequestration
AUTHORIZATION BILL ON PAUSE
The main obstacle to passage of a defense policy bill for 2015 are proposals included in the Senate’s bill that would cut Basic Allowance for Housing and would raise TRICARE drug fees. The House-passed version does not include the language.
AUSA firmly opposes those proposals.
AUSA President Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, USA, Ret., recently weighed in on the issue. A letter he sent to Senate Armed Services Committee leaders outlined his position, “AUSA urges the full Senate to adopt amendments to reject a five percent reduction to the military housing allowance, and a disproportionate increase in TRICARE pharmacy fees for retirees and active component family members.”
“Recent international events place new demands on service members who have been at war for 13 years and now face significant reductions in compensation, benefits, and force levels. To sustain the AVF that keeps us safe, we must provide adequate funding for weapon systems, and provide those in uniform with a compensation and benefits package that acknowledges their sacrifice,” Sullivan said.
The Senate’s bill was only voted out of committee – it never reached the Senate floor for a full vote. Therefore, House and Senate Armed Services Committee members are privately negotiating and writing a final bill that they hoped would be finished this week. Now it appears likely that it will not be completed until after the Thanksgiving recess.
DEFENSE SECRETARY & AUSA PRESIDENT: END THE THREAT OF SEQUESTRATION
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s op-ed in yesterday’s Defense One echoes what AUSA’s President Gen. Gordon Sullivan has been saying for some time.
Hagel wrote, “We urgently need Congress to end the threat of sequestration, which would devastate our military readiness, threaten long-term investments in modernization and undermine our ability to execute our nation’s defense strategy.
In a Defense One op-ed Sullivan penned earlier this year, he said, “Sequestration is having a devastating effect on the defense industrial base. In both the Defense Department’s own industrial facilities and in commercial industry, sequestration cuts are putting our ability to equip a mobilized force at growing risk. I am alarmed that there is a gross lack of awareness among national leaders how dire this situation is becoming.”
Sullivan continued, “All of this explains the dire warnings we hear from uniformed and civilian defense officials about our military’s decreasing ability to carry out its mission. Why don’t elected and appointed officials own up to this misguided management of our national defense and fix it? This time let’s not repeat history. Let’s maintain our best weapon – our fighting men and women – in the numbers and quality that will keep us ready when inevitability brings us the next war.”
Fiscal year 2016 is considered by many to be the breaking point for the Army. Severe cuts would have to take place if lawmakers cannot find common ground before that budget year.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, incoming chairmen of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees have both stated on many occasions that they oppose sequestration and will work to see it end. We support that wholeheartedly!