12-7-12

Senate Amends and Passes FY 2013 NDAA

The Senate debated and voted on numerous amendments to the Senate version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA – S. 3254) and then passed the bill in a 98-0 vote this week.

The amendment to limit pharmacy co-pay increases in 2013 and link future adjustments to retiree cost-of-living increases was blocked by Arizona Senator John McCain (Ariz.), who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Senator Tom Coburn (Okla.). The amendment, sponsored by Senator Jack Reed (R.I.), was identical to a provision in the House-approved version of the NDAA (H.R. 4310). The battle over pharmacy co-pays isn’t over and will now shift to the conference committee that will resolve differences in the House and Senate versions of the bill. 

The FRA-supported concurrent receipt amendment, sponsored by Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.), was modified and adopted to only fix the “glitch” that causes certain beneficiaries to get their disability rating increased while actually reducing their monetary benefits.

Other adopted amendments of importance to FRA members include:

  • SA 2969 (Sen. Dean Heller-Nev.) requires DoD to do a report on the future availability of TRICARE Prime throughout the United States.
  • SA 3030 (Sen. Frank Lautenberg-N.J.) is a Sense of the Senate stating retiree health care benefits have been earned through twenty or more years of arduous military service.
  • SA 3291 (Sen. Mark Pryor-Ark.) requires states to ensure training received by a veteran while on active duty is taken into consideration when granting certain certifications and licenses.
  • SA 2960 (Sen. Ron Wyden-Ore.) requires DoD to report on its efforts to ease re-integration into civilian life for Reserve Component troops after mobilization.
  • SA 3099 (Sen. Patty Murray-Wash.) improves DoD suicide prevention programs and expands VA mental health counseling for families of veterans.
  • SA 3302 (Sen. Jack Reed-R.I.) strengthens predatory lending protections for active duty service members.
  • SA 3158 (Sen. John Cornyn-Texas) requires the VA to provide Congress with a plan to reduce the VA disability claims backlog.
  • SA 3058 (Kristin Gillibrand-N.Y.) expands TRICARE coverage for health services for military children with autism.
  • SA 3144 (Sen. Jim Webb-Va.) makes it a crime for someone to lie about having served in the military or receiving decorations with the intent of obtaining any tangible benefit or personal gain. 
  • SA 2948 (Sen. Jim Webb-Va.) extends increased BAH rates until Jan. 1, 2014.
  • SA 2949 (Sen. Jim Webb-Va.) extends active duty leave rollover until September 30, 2015.

Many of the 381 floor amendments were not called for a vote. The Senate has already appointed members for the conference committee, which could complete its work as early as next week.  FRA is represented on a special letter to conferees from the entire Military Coalition addressing priority issues to be resolved during conference deliberations.