Legislative News

  • 26 Dec 2015 18:31 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    WASHINGTON, — Defense Department funding from the recent two-year budget deal was hard to achieve and sets the department up fairly well for the near future, the Defense Department Comptroller said here this week, adding that uncertainty remains in the long term.

    Mike McCord, speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the increase provided by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, or BBA15, gave the department 98 percent of what it asked for in fiscal year 2016 -- not counting $8 billion in relief for overseas contingency operations, or OCO.

    "For '17 it's a little less, about 96 percent without the OCO relief, maybe 97 percent with it," McCord said.

    Budget Control Act

    The president's budget request for DoD in fiscal 2016 was $534 billion, and under BBA15 the base budget is $522 billion plus $8 billion in OCO funding that can be used as OCO funds or as part of the base budget.

    Under the sequester caps set by the Budget Control Act of 2011, the fiscal 2016 base budget would have been $498 billion.

    The president's budget plan for DoD in fiscal 2017 was $547 billion, and under BBA15 the base budget is $525 billion plus $8 billion in flexible OCO funding.

    Under the sequester caps set by the Budget Control Act of 2011, the fiscal 2017 base budget would have been $512 billion.

    “If there is no further relief from the BCA after this two-year budget deal and we return to sequester-level caps in 2018, we would still absorb about $800 billion of cuts over 10 years from the BCA, even with this deal and the previous Murray-Ryan deal for 2014 AND 2015,” McCord said.

    Driving the Budget

    "That's the best case at this point, and the worst case is probably $900 billion, based on the BCA being what it is. That shows you that the range is much closer to being driven by the BCA, which is surprising when you think about some of the changes in world events," the comptroller added.

    On the $8 billion in each fiscal year for OCO relief, McCord says he has a different view of the total amount of relief.

    "To me the OCO relief is not really $8 billion because the president decided shortly before this deal was agreed to, to extend the higher troop level in Afghanistan," he said.

    The bill for the extra troops -- which McCord estimates is about $3 billion or more a year -- was not contained in the fiscal 2016 plans.

    He added, "That's how I count it … [but] $5 billion [a year] worth of relief is still a good thing."

    Uncertainties Remain

    Despite the positive thrust of the two-year BBA15, McCord says many uncertainties remain now and will remain in the future.

    In the near term, he said, the department faces a wide range of military challenges, including the following:

    -- Balancing capability, capacity and readiness;

    -- Terrorism, instability across the Middle East and North Africa;

    -- Rising pressure from Russia and China;

    -- Globalization of advanced technology;

    -- Rebalancing to the Asia-Pacific region;

    -- Cyber defense, attribution and response; and

    -- Short-term budget deals, constrained resources and fiscal uncertainty.

    Into the Future

    Priorities and uncertainties for fiscal 2017 and beyond include, among others, McCord said, nation-states like Russia, China, Iran and North Korea; ISIL and the global counterterrorism challenge; balancing capability, capacity and readiness; compensation and retention for today's force; the Force of the Future; innovation in investments and practices; operating in space and cyberspace; and modernizing the nuclear deterrent in the 2020s and 2030s.

    "I wish that I could say I had long-term budget stability or predictability to underwrite the investment we want to make as a department. I do not have that," he said.

    What BBA15 Doesn’t Do

    In his description of what the BBA15 does and doesn't do, McCord said one of the things it doesn't do is most important to the department -- it does not extend BCA spending caps beyond 2021.

    "This was something that was very important to us, probably our top priority when we talked to [the Office of Management and Budget] as they headed into the negotiations," he said.

    "We did not want to see these caps extended even further because … the decade of the '20s is when we'll probably need additional resources, even above where we are today, to start recapitalizing the nuclear triad," McCord added.

  • 25 Dec 2015 18:11 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Get Prepared for Tax Season by Electing to Receive your 1095 IRS tax form electronically! Log into myPay today!  Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the federal government, state governments, insurers, employers, and individuals are given shared responsibility to reform and improve the availability, quality, and affordability of health insurance coverage in the United States.

    For the 2015 tax year, Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) is required to furnish a Form 1095 to each employee that worked any full time hours.  MyPay has been updated to allow you to elect to receive this tax form electronically.  Civilian employees are highly encouraged to log into myPay to turn on electronic delivery.  Go to myPay and from the main menu of myPay, select "Turn On/Off Hard Copy of IRS Form 1095."

    Electronic delivery is the fastest and most secure method to receive your 1095 once it becomes available in January of 2016.  Please opt in to receive an electronic copy no later than December 31, 2015.

    For more information on the ACA and tax reporting, please visit 

    For additional details on the tax information you will be receiving from DFAS, visit

    If you have questions about logging into myPay and/or making changes to your electronic elections in myPay, contact the DFAS Centralized Customer Support Unit at 1-888-DFAS411 or 1-888-332-7411 and select option #5.
  • 25 Dec 2015 18:08 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    WASHINGTON, December 2, 2015 — Defense Department funding from the recent two-year budget deal was hard to achieve and sets the department up fairly well for the near future, the Defense Department Comptroller said here this week, adding that uncertainty remains in the long term.  Mike McCord, speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the increase provided by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, or BBA15, gave the department 98 percent of what it asked for in fiscal year 2016 -- not counting $8 billion in relief for overseas contingency operations, or OCO.  "For '17 it's a little less, about 96 percent without the OCO relief, maybe 97 percent with it," McCord said.

  • 25 Dec 2015 16:48 | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    An independent panel set up by Congress said that in order for the Department of Veterans Affairs to address the problems plaguing its health system, an independent panel should be formed to “optimize facilities resourcing and lines of service.” READ THE STORY
  • 12 Jul 2015 18:40 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    WASHINGTON - Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, made the following statement on the naming of conferees by Speaker Boehner (R-OH) to serve on the formal House-Senate Conference committee to resolve the differences in the FY2016 National Defense Authorization Act, to read the entire new release click here.   

  • 12 Jul 2015 18:38 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    WASHINGTON – This past week Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.) was joined by Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) announced the introduction of legislation that would close a loophole in the law that allows for-profit schools to receive 100 percent of their funding from the federal government.  To read the entire article click here.  

  • 28 Jun 2015 08:26 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    I want to inform everyone of a pending piece of legislation that Senators Ayotte and Gillibrand are planning to offer as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act. We believe this is important legislation and hope you will, too. 

    The idea behind the legislation is that innocent military family members who endure significant sacrifices over many years should not be deprived of benefits they would have been afforded just because the service member is convicted of a crime in which the family was innocent.  Specifically:

    • Would give the innocent dependent of a military member who loses benefits due to misconduct access to the portion of benefits he or she would have received in a divorce settlement if the member had not committed misconduct.
    • Would provide transitional compensation to allow a dependent to receive payments and benefits for up to three years after the service member forfeits his or her retired pay (conceived to act in many cases to provide benefits while the dependent is awaiting a final divorce settlement in order to qualify for the benefit described above).

    To read the entire bill click here, to read a one page executive summary click here. 

  • 09 Mar 2015 20:56 | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Did you know that every day on average, 22 veterans commit suicide?  The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act will help the Department of Veterans Affairs study new strategies for suicide prevention and give student loan incentives to recruit psychiatrists to work with veterans.

    The Act complements VA’s ongoing, multi-faceted efforts to improve mental health care for our nation’s veterans, and I’m pleased that both houses of Congress came together to pass the SAV Act. I’m proud to stand with President Obama today as he signs this important legislation.              

    The VA has many entry points for care: medical centers, more than 800 community-based outpatient clinics, 300 Vet Centers that provide readjustment counseling, the Veterans Crisis Line, VA staff oncollege and university campuses, and the VA is offering expanded access to mental health services with longer clinic hours, telemental health capabilityto deliver services, and standards that mandate rapid access to mental health services.

    The Clay Hunt SAV Act seeks to quell the suicide epidemic by:

    Increasing Access to Mental Health Care and Capacity at VA to Meet Demand

    • Requires VA to create a one-stop, interactive website to serve as a centralized source of information regarding all department mental health services.
    • Addresses the shortage of mental health care professionals by authorizing VA to conduct a student loan repayment pilot program aimed at recruiting and retaining psychiatrists.

    Improving the Quality of Care and Boosting Accountability at VA

    • Requires a yearly evaluation of all VA mental health care and suicide prevention practices and programs to find out what’s working and what’s not working and make recommendations to improve care.

    Developing a Community Support System for Veterans 

    • Establishes a pilot program to assist veterans transitioning from active duty to veteran status.
    • Requires VA to collaborate with nonprofit mental health organizations to improve the efficiency of suicide prevention efforts.

     If you need assistance or know someone who does you can contact the VA Veterans Crisis HOTLINE at1-800-273-8255 or  www.VeteransCrisisLine.net

    To view the signing ceremony click here

    To read the bill click here

  • 06 Dec 2014 19:33 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2014 is the key mechanism to provide necessary authorities and funding for America’s military. This is the fifty-second consecutive NDAA. The legislation meets Chairman McKeon’s goal of providing for a strong defense in an era of uncertain and declining resources. The total funding authorized reflects the will of the House to provide our troops the resources they need to meet a dangerous world. However, Chairman McKeon also recognizes that, more than ever, the impacts of rapid defense cuts, FY13 sequestration, and the prospect of future sequester cuts in the years to come, will force our warfighters to be not only keen stewards of our national security, but to maximize value for every taxpayer dollar. To that end, this legislation supports and protects our warfighters and their families; addresses ongoing and emerging conflicts with resolve and accountability; protects America today while making wise choices.

    Highlights include:

    The NDAA will provide the National Guard and Reserve Component Equipment - $1,250 million!

    1. A limited, $3 increase in select pharmacy co-pays is approved. There will be no increase in mail-order generic pharmaceuticals. Consideration of any further increases is postponed until after the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission reports in February of 2015.

    2. The 2015 military pay increase at 1 percent.

    3.  A pay freeze for General and Flag Officers

    4. The NDAA rejects the Pentagon’s request for a 5% reduction in basic allowance for housing (BAH) and replaces it with a 1% decrease.

    5. Purple Heart: The NDAA provides authorization for awarding the Purple Heart to members of the armed forces killed or wounded in a domestic attack inspired by a foreign terrorist organization - like the attack at Ft. Hood.

    6. Military Suicide: The NDAA authorizes an additional $18.8 million towards behavioral and psychological health programs and efforts specifically for Special Operations Force.

    7.  Military Readines: Our military is experiencing ever growing challenges maintaining readiness as a result of sequestration, leading to a system of tiered readiness where only deploying military personnel are fully trained and ready to deploy. The NDAA provides over $212 billion for operation and maintenance requirements funding activities such as ship refueling and overhaul, depot maintenance, and facilities sustainment.

    To read a summary of the NDAA click here.

    To read the entire NDAA ACT click here

  • 25 Nov 2014 08:15 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Megan Scully, CQ Roll Call

    Negotiations on the final defense policy bill have stalled amid disagreements between House and Senate Armed Services committee leaders over issues affecting military benefits, congressional sources tracking the bill said Tuesday.

    Committee leaders had hoped to finalize the negotiated bill early this week, but they have reached an impasse over differences in the two measures on cost-saving Pentagon proposals to increase some TRICARE pharmacy co-pays and reduce the basic housing allowance for military personnel.

    The House-passed version of the bill (HR 4435) would deny the Pentagon its request on both issues, calling those proposals “piecemeal” and deferring instead to the findings of an upcoming commission on military compensation and benefits, which will issue a report early next year.

    “While the committee recognizes the need for compensation reform, it believes such reforms must be examined holistically before proceeding with wide-impacting changes, and it looks forward to reviewing the recommendations provided by the congressionally directed Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission,” according to the committee’s report on the bill.

    But the Senate Armed Services version of the bill (S 2410) would limit the housing allowance increase below the rate of inflation, which could ultimately mean troops pay 5 percent of housing costs out of pocket. The bill also would green-light the Pentagon’s proposal to increase pharmacy co-pays for prescriptions filled outside of military treatment facilities.

    In its report on the bill, the Senate panel said it “reluctantly” agreed to those Pentagon proposals, as well as a limited pay raise for military personnel.

    The proposals, “while undesirable, are necessary to produce a DOD budget that provides sufficient funding to address readiness and modernization deficits, authorizes a sufficiently sized and trained force to meet national defense objectives, and adheres to congressionally mandated budget levels,” the Senate report states.

    The savings generated by the co-pay increase and the reduced housing allowance are expected to total billions of dollars over the next several years. But even modest efforts to scale back military benefits have traditionally been met with heavy resistance on Capitol Hill.

    The so-called “Big Four” undefined the top Republican and Democrat on each of the Armed Services panels undefined have been working for the last week to resolve the remaining differences in the bill, with the hopes of moving it through Congress during the lame duck session.

    Congress has enacted a defense authorization measure every year for more than half a century, a track record that has boosted the power and influence the two committees have over Pentagon policy-making and budgetary priorities.

    Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., and House Armed Services Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., are retiring at the end of this Congress, and neither man wants the committees’ streak to break on his watch.

    Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Levin would not discuss any details of the private negotiations or the remaining points of contention between the two chambers, but he said he hopes the bill would be completed soon.

    “We’re not there yet,” Levin said. “That’s what it amounts to.” 

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