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Posted on 4/24/2014
Legislative Business Will Soon be Picking Up
It’s been quiet in Washington with Congress in recess but things change dramatically next week when the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) begins to craft its version of the FY 2015 NDAA and the full chamber votes on the first two 2015 appropriations bills of the year.
Four HASC Subcommittees plan to mark up their respective portions of the National Defense Authorization Act on April 30: Intelligence, Emerging Threats and Capabilities; Strategic Forces; Seapower and Projection Forces; and Military Personnel. The following day, May 1, the Tactical Air and Land Forces and Readiness Subcommittees will conduct markup sessions of their own. The six inputs will then be incorporated into a full bill the HASC is scheduled to finalize and approve on May 7.
Meanwhile, the full House is scheduled to conduct votes on two of the 12 annual funding bills. One for Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and the other to fund the Legislative Branch. Traditionally both bills passed the chamber with relative ease; the same can be expected this year.
Some final thoughts on the preparation of the FY15 NDAA. By now most readers are aware of DoD’s many proposals to reduce benefits and raise TRICARE fees. It is important that you know while they have been pressing Congress to make these changes, we have been pushing back. The Military Compensation & Retirement Modernization Commission (MCRMC) was created by Congress to completely review pay & benefits and provide recommendations based upon their research. Their report is not due to until February next year and lacking a complete understanding of any implications these changes will have, we believe Congress should take no action on DoD’s plans this year. We believe our message is getting through, but greatly need your help. Send your elected representatives a message via AFSA CapWiz urging them to ignore DoD’s short-sighted, budget driven cuts to critical personnel programs.
Posted on 4/24/2014
April 26 is National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day
A reminder that Saturday, April 26 is National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. Between 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM on April 26, bring your unwanted prescription drugs to a collection site near you.
Posted on 4/24/2014
Veterans Employment Center
The Administration launched a website called the Veterans Employment Center to help connect Veterans with employers. The new location consolidates the current array of employment resources for Veterans and their spouses while serving as comprehensive database of resumes for employers looking to hire transitioning servicemembers and their families. “Veterans deserve an authoritative source for connecting with employers,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “The online Veterans Employment Center is the single, federal source for veterans looking for new career opportunities, service members transitioning to the civilian workforce, and spouses and beneficiaries looking to connect with job opportunities.” To visit the site, click on the link above. For a tutorial (video) on how to use the Veterans Employment Center, click here.
Posted on 4/22/2014
New AFSA CEO Announced
Posted on 4/14/2014
The AFSA headquarters staff expended considerable time over the past month meeting with House & Senate members regarding the Administration’s proposals to curb pay raises, cut appropriations for commissaries, and raise TRICARE fees among other ideas. As a result of those efforts, we believe many Representatives in the House will reject a number of the Administration's budget proposals. However we can always use more supporters when the chamber begins marking up its version of the annual defense policy bill at the end of April. This is where you come in. Congress is on recess through April 28th and lawmakers will be working out of their local offices. Call or visit those local offices and urge them to reject any plan that reduces or limits pay, and/or shifts costs of benefit programs to servicemembers, retirees, and military families.
Posted on 4/8/2014
Oversight in Overdrive
Congressional oversight of the authorization and appropriations process has turned into a full court press! This week alone, AFSA is monitoring more than two dozen hearings and markup sessions that could impact our members. The pace ends on Friday when Congress begins its two-week Spring District Work Period. When lawmakers return after the Easter holiday, their emphasis will swing toward the actual writing of authorization and appropriations bills. One area of particular interest to AFSA is the annual defense policy bill. The House Armed Services Committee tells AFSA it plans to write its version of the National Defense Authorization Act at the end of this month.
Posted on 4/3/2014
Posted on 4/2/2014
2014 National Guard and Reserve Component Caucus Breakfast
On April 2, House lawmakers, defense officials and military advocates gathered together for the 2014 National Guard and Reserve Component Caucus Breakfast which AFSA sponsors with several Coalition partners. During the event, Deputy Defense Secretary Christine Fox and senior representatives from each of the reserve components took a turn at the lectern identifying their priorities for the upcoming year. While the defense budget and concerns with the impact sequestration drew comments from nearly every speaker, three common themes were expressed by each of the military leaders: the need to optimize mission readiness; investing in personnel (retention, training and education, suicide prevention, etc.); and, the importance of taking care of military families. Secretary Fox, was very candid with her proposed positions on the reserve components needs, funding, and very long strategic planning for the defense of our Nation. Her A 10 statements drew some less than desirable looks in the audience. AFSA was honored to support this important annual event on behalf of our Guard and reserve members.
Posted on 4/1/2014
"Doc Fix" Awaits Signature by President
After the House passed the bill last week, late Monday the Senate followed suit (as AFSA predicted) and also approved a 1 year extension of the current "Doc Fix" by a vote of 64-35. Congress needed to act no later than March 31 if they hoped to prevent a 24% cut to Medicare and TRICARE physician reimbursement payments scheduled to begin on April 1. Although President Obama has not yet signed the bill, we have every indication that he will and one more deadline involving Congressional action will again be narrowly averted. The flawed Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula responsible for the perennial "doc-fix" issue will now be placed on the backburner until we reach the next deadline and revisit this issue towards the end of 2014.