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4 December 2014 Legislative News Update

Association of the United States Army Logo - Eagle with Shield, Torch, Olive Branch
Thursday, December 04, 2014

weekly electronic newsletter, and is published 
every Monday when Congress is in session.

 

 

  

In this issue:

  • House Vote Today On Defense Policy Bill

 

★★★

 

HOUSE VOTE TODAY ON DEFENSE POLICY BILL

The 113th Congress is quickly drawing to a close.  Members are scheduled to hit the road by the end of next week. 

Here is the status of the defense authorization and appropriations bills:

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal 2015.  The House and Senate Armed Services Committee members have reached an agreement on the NDAA.  The House is voting on the legislation today and the Senate is expected to take it up next week.  PREDICTION:  It’s all over but the shouting.  This legislation will pass and will be signed by the President.  There are a few members of Congress who are raising cane about some of the provisions included in the bill, but, ultimately, the bill will pass.

The legislation: 

§  Freezes pay of general and flag officers and reinstates the cap on retired pay of general and flag officers 

§  Reduces the rate of increase in the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) to provide that BAH will cover 1 percent less than average out-of-pocket costs for housing.  This provision is for one-year only.

§  Authorizes a one-year $3.00 increase in pharmacy copays for non-active duty TRICARE beneficiaries who fill prescriptions outside of military treatment facilities; requires that non-formulary prescriptions be available through the national mail order program; and requires that non-generic prescription maintenance medications be refilled through military treatment facility pharmacies or the national mail-order pharmacy program.

§  Authorizes the payment of the Survivor Benefit Plan annuity to a special needs trust for certain disabled dependent children.

§  Authorizes $25 million in impact aid for assistance to local educational agencies impacted by the enrollment of dependent children of military members and DOD civilian employees and $5 million in impact aid for schools with large numbers of children of military members and DOD civilian employees with severe disabilities.

§  Exempts those who first join military service prior to January 1, 2016, from the reduced cost of living adjustment (COLA) applicable to military retired pay made by section 403 of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 (Public Law 113-67). 

§  Authorizes a three-month deferral of retirement for officers selected for selective early retirement.

The bill also establishes a commission on the future of the Army that will study and recommend an appropriate force structure mix between active and reserve components.  That report is due in February, 2016.  The president also decided to hold pay increases to 1 percent which after much discussion and dissention between the two houses of Congress, the Congress agreed to. 

AUSA has fought along with its coalition partners to hold the line and prevent any further erosion of benefits and will continue to do so this coming year. 

Defense Appropriations Bill for fiscal 2015.  The chances of a stand-alone defense spending bill passing both chambers of Congress are slim to none.  Not even slim.  There is no chance a stand-alone bill will pass.  PREDICTION:  Congress will pass something that will prevent a government shut-down when the current stop-gap expires on Dec. 11, but not until the 11th hour.

Here are 3 options being batted around the Hill: 

1.   An omnibus bill that packages all 12 spending bills and provides funding for government agencies until September 2015. 

2.   A hybrid omnibus bill that funds all government agencies except for the Department of Homeland Security.  That agency would continue to be funded for 3 months under a continuing resolution which would give Republicans time to undermine the president’s executive actions on immigration when they take control in January. 

3.   Another continuing resolution that would fund the government at last year’s levels.

We vote for Option #1 or #2 and are strongly opposed to #3.  DoD does not need to work any longer under a continuing resolution especially with the specter of sequestration looming next year.