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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.
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.
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.
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:
To read the entire bill click here, to read a one page executive summary click here.
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
Improving the Quality of Care and Boosting Accountability at VA
Developing a Community Support System for Veterans
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
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.
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
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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