Defense Authorization Advances in House and Senate

The Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) approved its version of the FY 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) this week. With the Exception of sexual assault provisions, all other deliberations were in closed session. The Committee rejected the Administration’s request for new TRICARE-for-Life and TRICARE Standard enrollment fees and a drastic increase in TRICARE Prime enrollment fee and pharmacy co-pays.

The Committee did, however, approve the Administration’s request for only a one-percent military pay increase. The Committee also rejected a Personnel Subcommittee-approved provision to remove commanders of the legal authority to oversee major criminal cases, including sexual assault. Oversight authority would also shift to uniform prosecutors.

The still unnumbered bill also:

  • reduces overall military end strength by more than 40,000, including a 7,100 reduction in Marine Corps manpower (The Navy’s manpower would increase by 900);
  • allows retirees that participate in the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) to designate that benefits go into a Special Needs Trust (SNT) for disabled dependent children;
  • mandates that the Department of Justice will enforce the Military Lending Act; and
  • provides $25 million in Impact Aid for public schools impacted by military population.

As Newsbytes is being finalized, the full House of Representatives is continuing debate on 172 floor amendments to its version of the FY 2014 Defense Authorization bill (H.R. 1960), which is on track to be approved later today.

Once both chambers approve their respective versions of the NDAA, a conference committee will be appointed to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate bills. The House and Senate versions of the NDAA do not account for FY 2014 sequestration cuts of $52 billion, if alternative spending cuts are not approved prior to September 30, 2013.