NewsBytes October 27, 2023
In this issue:
House Selects New Speaker
Quality of Life Panel Briefed on QRMC
Tricare Open Enrollment
Sailor Pleads Guilty to Helping China

House Selects New Speaker

The House elected Rep. Mike Johnson (La.) as the 56th Speaker of the House of Representatives after three weeks of messy deliberations that delayed the House's legislative work. Speaker Mike Johnson was first elected to the House in 2016. He has been serving on the House Armed Services Committee since 2021, and Barksdale Air Force Base is in his district. He also serves on the House Judiciary Committee. He holds a bachelor’s degree and a law degree (JD) from Louisiana State University.

The government is currently operating under a Continuing Resolution that expires on November 17, that provides government funding at current levels. The ousting of Rep. Kevin McCarthy and the selection of a new Speaker created a three-week delay, raising concerns that Congress will not be able to fund the government by the November 17 deadline. Furthermore, the debt ceiling agreement passed in May 2024 stipulates that if Congress does not pass its FY 2024 appropriations (spending) legislation by January 1, 2024, a one-year continuing resolution with a 1 percent cut to all federal agencies, including the Defense Department and the Department of Veterans Affairs, will go into effect.


HASC Quality of Life Panel Briefed by DoD on QRMC 

Reps. Don Bacon (Neb.) and Chrissy Houlahan (Penn.), Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee’s Quality of Life Panel, respectively, received a briefing from the Department of Defense (DOD) regarding the ongoing 14th Quadrennial Review of Military Compensation (QRMC). The review, set to be completed by January 31, 2025, will focus on compensation and benefits, including military basic pay.

The Pentagon has initiated its review of military pay and benefits, known as the Quadrennial Review of Military Compensation (QRMC), to ensure that service members are being paid fairly and can afford basic needs such as food and housing.

The QRMC is conducted every four years to examine whether military pay and other benefits are appropriate. Its goal is to ensure that service members are paid comparably to what they would receive in the civilian market and can afford necessities. The new pay and benefits review comes after the Pentagon announced the largest year-to-year increases in food and housing allowances in decades. The department stated that food allowances would increase by 11 percent for 2023, and housing payments would rise by an average of 12 percent.

The FRA submitted a statement to the QRMC in March. Previous compensation reviews have resulted in significant changes in military pay and benefits, such as increased hazard pay and modifications to the criteria used to calculate the housing allowance. The QRMC final report is expected to be completed by January 20.


TRICARE Open Enrollment Season Starts November 13

TRICARE Open Season will commence on November 13 and conclude on December 12, 2023. During this period, beneficiaries have the opportunity to enroll in or make changes to their health care plan for the upcoming year. If a beneficiary is content with their current plan, no action is required, and their coverage will automatically continue for 2024. It's important to note that new retirees have only one year to enroll in TRICARE Prime or Select, as enrollment is not automatic for retirees. To obtain further information, please visit


Sailor Pleads Guilty to Providing Info to China

As a follow-up to an August 18, 2023, Newsbytes story, a Navy Sailor, charged with providing sensitive military information to China, pleaded guilty in Los Angeles, Calif., to conspiring with a foreign intelligence officer and receiving a bribe. The Petty Officer originally pleaded not guilty when he was charged on August 4, 2023. The Justice Department alleges that the Sailor, based at Naval Base Ventura County, north of Los Angeles, conspired to collect nearly $15,000 in bribes from a Chinese intelligence officer in exchange for information, photos, and videos involving Navy exercises, operations, and facilities. The Sailor pleaded guilty before United States District Judge R. Gary Klausner, who scheduled a sentencing hearing for January 8, 2024. The Sailor faces a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison – five years for the conspiracy count and 15 years for the bribery charge. The defendant has been in custody since his arrest in August.

As noted in the earlier Newsbytes story, another Sailor was also arrested, but they are separate cases, and federal officials have not disclosed whether the two were paid by the same Chinese intelligence officer as part of a larger scheme. The other Sailor, assigned to the San Diego-based USS Essex, is charged with providing detailed information on the weapons systems and aircraft aboard the Essex and other amphibious assault ships that function as small aircraft carriers. He pleaded not guilty in federal court in San Diego. Both men are naturalized citizens from China.


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