30 October 2014 Legislative News Update
30 October 2014 Legislative News Update
- Lame Duck
- Speaking of Sequestration
★★★ LAME DUCKAn elected official or group of officials, such as a legislator, continuing in office during the period between an election defeat and a successor's assumption of office.The next few weeks on Capitol Hill are going to be very intense and Congress has no one but itself to blame. We will know after next week’s mid-term elections who will have control of the Senate. That is, until we don’t. With less than a week to go, candidates in a handful of races remain in a statistical dead heat. If the Senate races in Georgia and Louisiana do not produce a clear winner, then a runoff will be held which could delay a declared winner until December or even early January. That creates uncertainty and uncertainty is not good when you have a year’s worth of critical legislation to pass in a four-week lame duck session.Congress must either pass a massive omnibus spending bill which will contain defense appropriations as well as funding for Overseas Contingency Operations or another continuing resolution which will fund the government past the Dec. 11 expiration date of the current one. One or the other will be approved because no one in Congress has an appetite for a government shut-down. We are no fans of continuing resolutions and strongly believe that the omnibus is the right path.Congress must also pass the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2015 which we believe will happen before the end of the 113th Congress.AUSA President Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, USA, Ret., recently sent a letter to the leaders of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees outlining the Association’s position on many provisions contained in the House and Senate bills.In particular, Sullivan urged the Senate to adopt amendments that would reject a five percent reduction to the military housing allowance and reject a “disproportional increase in TRICARE pharmacy fee increases for retirees and active component family members.”Sullivan also reiterated his concern that the Army’s end strength must be at levels to meet mission requirements and again urged the repeal of sequestration. He said that, “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.”The House passed its version of the authorization bill in May. The Senate’s bill was approved by the committee but has not been approved by the full Senate. Senate leaders have expressed a desire for a full debate on amendments followed by passage of the bill and then a conference with the House to iron out any differences. However, the chances of that happening are slim. Instead, it is expected that a bill already informally negotiated between House and Senate Armed Services members will go before the two chambers for passage.SPEAKING OF SEQUESTRATION…AUSA continues to push its message on the debilitating effect sequestration is having on the military.AUSA President Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan and Maj. Gen. USA, Ret., Gus Hargett, President of the National Guard Association of the United States sent a joint letter to the Hill urging them to remove the specter of sequestration from defense funding. Sullivan and Hargett reminded the Hill leadership that, if sequestration is allowed to continue, then “the nation will be left with its smallest ground force since 1940 – unable to carry out our defense strategy.” AUSA Vice President for Education, Lt. Gen. Guy Swan and Director of Government Affairs Bill Loper briefed the Kansas Governor’s Military Council at a meeting on Capitol Hill. Swan gave the group an overview of the devastating effects of sequestration and the need to end it permanently. He urged them to get the message out to anyone who will listen. Loper also participated in a panel held as part of the American Logistics Association’s Annual meeting in which he discussed sequestration and its impact on personnel policy and commissary issues. He also emphasized the importance of ending sequestration as crucial to our national security.Both Swan and Loper told their audiences that the general public remains unaware that sequestration has impacted our national defense much more severely than any other aspect of American life.What can you do.Contact Congress! Contact them in large numbers and urge them to end sequestration permanently. Click here, enter your zip code and click on the prepared letter titled End Sequestration Permanently. If sequestration ends our armed forces will have the funding necessary to properly defend the nation and pressure to cut military benefits will be reduced. It is grassroots pressure from our association members that will convince Congress that in an increasingly dangerous world, reducing defense spending is the wrong path.