September 29 2017

In this issue:
NDAA Conference Committee Report Coming 
Commissaries to Start Accepting Military Star Card
FRA Discusses Legislative Process with Marines

NDAA Conference Committee Report Coming Soon 
The House and Senate have passed their versions of the FY2018 Defense Authorization bill. A conference committee will be appointed to resolve the differences between the two bills. The Senate bill provides for substantial TRICARE fee increases by repealing the so-called grandfather clause that would exclude veterans who retired before January 1, 2018 from TRICARE increases. The Senate bill also increases pharmacy co-pays, provides for a smaller active duty pay increase (2.1% vice 2.4%) and makes further cuts to Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH). Once the differences between the two versions are resolved, the final bill will be submitted to both chambers of Congress. If approved, it will then be sent to President Trump to be signed into law or vetoed. 

Members are strongly urged to use the online Action Center to ask your Representative to oppose these onerous Senate provisions in the final Defense Authorization bill (H.R.2810).

Commissaries to Start Accepting Military Star Card
Pursuant to last year's (FY2017) National Defense Authorization Act (S.2943 - P.L.114-328) commissary consumers will soon be able to use a Military Star credit card to purchase groceries. The Military Star card is accepted at all the military exchanges and has 1.5 million cardholders. On October 3, 2017, a pilot test starts at the Fort Lee, Virginia commissary. On October 9, 2017, five more commissaries will join the pilot program: Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass.; Carlisle Barracks, Penn.; Naval Air Station Oceana, Va.; Naval Air Station Key West, Fla.; and Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Va. Twenty more stores-including some overseas-will join in October 16, 2017.  By November 9, 2017, the remaining 212 commissary stores are expected to accept the Star card, if the pilot test is successful. 

FRA Discusses Legislative Process with Marines
Assistant Director Veterans Program (ADVP) Brian Condon recently presented a legislative process brief to a class of Staff Non-Commissioned Officers (SNCO) attending the Marine Corps University at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va. The brief included information about the Fleet Reserve Association (FRA), its history, mission and its legislative priorities, as well as the member benefits.  FRA presents this brief approximately three times each year to classes of Marine Staff Sergeants (E-6) enrolled in the Staff Noncommissioned Officer Academy, which is a prerequisite for promotion to GySgt (E-7). For many of the class of 94 Staff Sergeants, it was the first time they heard of FRA. Some of them were aware of some issues facing the service members, such as BAH cuts, adequate annual pay raises and sequestration, they were not fully aware of how these issues get resolved. ADVP Condon encouraged them to become involved with FRA and to remain knowledgeable of what Congress is doing so they can better inform their junior Marines about issues that directly affect their careers.  

The following day, FRA sponsored a Capitol building tour for these Marines. They came from all across the country and even overseas to attend the class. This was the first time many of these Marines toured the building. For some of them, it was their first time in Washington D.C. Some of the highlights of the tour included the Dome Rotunda, the old Senate chamber and the Capitol visitor center. They all were able to see the recent extensive renovation of the Dome. 



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 as well.

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