Weekly newsletter of the Fleet Reserve Association

November 17 2017


In this issue:

NDAA Conference Committee Bill Passes 

House Passes Gold Star Family Support Bill

Does AUMF Need to Be Updated?

POW/MIA Commemorative Chair at U.S. Capitol

Thanksgiving Day Holiday Office Closing

 

 

NDAA Conference Committee Bill Passes 

The House and Senate passed the final version of the FY2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA-H.R.2810) that focuses on military readiness. The bill authorizes nearly $700 billion, which is $26 billion more than the Administration's request and $80 billion more than sequestration spending caps still in effect. 

 

The final bill includes:

 

• Keeping a grandfather clause to shield current retirees younger than 65 from an additional TRICARE fee increase (Senate NDAA repealed grandfather clause)

• Imposing a pharmacy co-pay for retirees younger than 65

• Eliminating the expiration date of May 2018 for the Special Survivor Indemnity Allowance (SSIA) for military widows, and increasing the SSIA based on the annual cost-of-living-allowance (COLA)

• Increasing pay (larger than requested) for troops by 2.4 percent, the largest pay increase in 8 years

• Eliminating a scheduled one-percent cut in Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH), and stopping a Senate provision to cut the dependent children rate for dual-military couples

• Boosting military end strength by more than 20,000 service members (4,000 Navy & 1,000 Marines)

• Mandate all Reserve Component members that are mobilized to receive premobilization and transitional health care

• Providing additional measures to protect victims of sexual assault including prosecution of perpetrators of non-consensual sharing of intimate images   

• Allowing reimbursement up to $500 for a spouse's expenses related to obtaining occupational license or certification in another state

• Directing the Correction of Military Records Boards to consider additional medical evidence relating to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or traumatic brain injury (TBI) when reviewing a discharge

 

The bill will now go to President Trump who is expected to sign it into law. The bill does exceed the (sequestration) budget cap for defense spending and will require additional congressional action to be enacted.  The President, along with the leaders of both the House and Senate, must strike a deal to eliminate or raise the sequestration caps for Defense spending in the next few weeks. Members are encouraged to go to the FRA Action Center to ask their legislators to exclude Defense spending from sequestration.

 

House Passes Gold Star Family Support Bill     

The House passed by voice vote, the "Gold Star Family Support and Installation Access Act" (H.R.3897), sponsored by Rep. Don Bacon (Neb.), that provides installation access for Gold Star families to attend memorial services and unit reunions on military installations. It also extends access to on-base services for surviving spouses who remarry, as long as the dependent children of the deceased service member remain under their guardianship. This FRA-supported bill now goes to the Senate for further consideration. 

 

Does AUMF Need to be Updated?

In the wake of service members being killed in Niger, some in Congress have expressed an interest in Congress reviewing, debating and re-authorizing the current Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF). Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Both President Trump appointees argued the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs, remain a sound basis for ongoing U.S. military operations against an expanding and changing threat in the Global War on Terror (GWOT). The Pentagon recently released a report that indicates the Department of Defense has spent more than $1.4 trillion on GWOT since September 11, 2001

 

POW/MIA Commemorative Chair at U.S. Capitol

FRA National Executive Director Tom Snee recently attended the unveiling of the Prisoner-of-War/Missing-in-Action (POW/MIA) commemorative chair dedication ceremony on Capitol Hill. It was unveiled by House Speaker Paul Ryan, who was joined by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senators Elizabeth Warren and Richard Blumenthal, and Representatives Stephen Lynch and Samuel Johnson, who spent seven years as a POW in Hanoi. The memorial chair is located in the Emancipation Hall of the Capitol Visitor Center, and serves to honor American prisoners of war. It stands as a reminder of the nearly 83,000 servicemen and women still missing in action. At the 90th annual FRA National Convention the delegates unanimously approved the 2018 FRA Legislative Agenda that includes: "FRA work to ensure that the DoD make every effort for a complete accounting of all Prisoners Of War and Missing in Action service members for past and current conflicts."

 

Thanksgiving Day Holiday Office Closing

There will be no NewsBytes next week due to the Thanksgiving Day holiday. FRA Headquarters will be closed Thursday November 23 and Friday November 24. The next issue of NewsBytes will be Friday December 1, 2017.
  

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NewsBytes is FRA's weekly legislative update. If you received this through a forward and would like to subscribe, please e-mail us  and include your name and contact information in the body of e-mail. If you are a member of FRA or LA FRA, please include your member number.

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