6-07-13

HASC Approves Defense Authorization Bill

The House Armed Services Committee marked up and approved the House version of the FY 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA, H.R.1960) this week. The panel accepted all of the recommendations of the Military Personnel Subcommittee (referenced in 5/24/13 edition of NewsBytes), including a full 1.8-percent active duty pay increase, the rejection of the Administration’s request for TRICARE-for-Life (TFL) and TRICARE Standard enrollment fees and drastic increases in TRICARE Prime enrollment fees and pharmacy co-pays.  The Committee bill also requires the Defense Department (DoD) to make a one-time offer of continued coverage to TRICARE Prime beneficiaries who live in areas where the Prime option will be discontinued as of October 1, 2013. 

The committee also adopted an amendment that would authorize “veteran status” for members of the Reserve Component who served 20 or more years. These Guard and Reserve personnel are considered military retirees, but do not qualify for veteran status under current policy.

The Committee’s mark also includes a variety of provisions that seek to prevent sexual assault, improve prosecution of sexual assault perpetrators, and protect victims of sexual assault.

The bill now moves to the House floor for further consideration, perhaps as early as next week. The Senate Armed Services’ subcommittees begin markups of the Senate’s version of the bill on June 11, 2013. Once both chambers approve their respective versions of the NDAA, a conference committee will reconcile the differences between the House and Senate bills.  Members are urged to use the FRA Action Center at www.fra.org to share their views with lawmakers on these and other pending issues that impact their hard-earned benefits.