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Posted on 3/4/2014
Budget Day in Washington
President Barack Obama officially releases his fiscal 2015 Budget Proposal to Congress on March 4. The document outlines how the Administration plans to spend nearly $1.014 trillion on discretionary programs ranging from the military to national parks—a level set by last December’s budget deal. As previously announced, the defense portion of his plan will seek cap military pay raises at 1% for another year and reduce monthly payments for Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH). Other provisions cut the annual federal appropriation for base commissaries and raise, or create new fees for TRICARE users. He may even recommend the elimination of TRICARE Prime altogether. We will be looking for these and other items once the document is available for public viewing so be sure to check back here for details.
Posted on 2/25/2014
Future Budget Plans for DOD
The Secretary of Defense held a press conference yesterday (February 24) to announce the Department of Defense’s budgetary plans for Fiscal Year 2015. There’s still considerable time before any Defense Appropriations Bill or National Defense Authorization Act gets signed into law, but to be blunt, we’re not at all happy to hear about some specific DoD cost cutting initiatives, and generally that theme prevailed throughout the SECDEF’s conference. Some of the controversial items proposed include:
As mentioned, this is all preliminary at least for now. If things continue down the path were heading on, it could be a rather contentious year. Stay tuned in to what’s happening and stand ready to act when appropriate; it’s going to take a team effort. Click here for the full story.
Posted on 2/24/2014
FY15 Budget, Veterans Bill Take Center Stage
Two issues will draw much attention in Washington this week. First, on Monday, February 24th, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Joint Chiefs Chairman General Martin Dempsey are scheduled to brief the press about some of the major decisions behind the Administration’s Fiscal 2015 Budget Proposal. Their preview comes a week before the official White House budget submission to Congress on March 4, and it is unclear how much detail about the plan they will provide. The focus then shifts to the halls of Congress where sometime early this week the Senate is expected to consider S. 1982, the “Comprehensive Veterans Health and Benefits and Military Retirement Pay Restoration Act of 2014.” Compiled by the Chairman of the Senate Veterans Committee, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), this omnibus bill could be the largest package of Veterans’ benefits passed by either chamber in decades.
Posted on 2/14/2014
President’s Day District Work Period
Now through February 24 the House and Senate will meet in pro forma sessions as lawmakers take a pause for the President’s Day District Work Period. During this time, your US senators and representatives will be back home in their respective states and districts so it’s best that you contact them there. As a reminder, members are encouraged to make personal contact with their elected officials when they are working in their home districts. Two suggested topics of discussion during this recess period are passage of legislation that requires institutions of higher learning to charge in state tuition rates for Montgomery and Post 9/11 GI Bill users, and, provide advance funding for VA’s mandatory accounts.
Posted on 2/12/2014
Congress Reverses COLA Cut
Both Chambers of Congress approved a plan to repeal a looming cut to annual cost-of-living adjustments for working military retirees. Inching closer to our goal of reinstating inflation-protections for all military retirees, the last step remaining is the President’s signature. No word yet on when that may occur.
Posted on 2/4/2014
In State Tuition Rates for Post 9/11 GI Bill Users - House Actions
The House on Monday unanimously agreed to legislation offered by the Chairman of the House Veterans Committee, Jeff Miller (R-FL) which requires state universities to offer in-state tuition for Veterans attending college on the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The Chairman’s bill, H.R. 357, also contains a five year ban on performance bonuses for VA Senior Executive Service employees and extends Veterans Retraining and Assistance Program job training benefits through May 31, 2014. After the passage of his legislation, Chairman Miller said, The men and women who served this nation did not just defend the citizens of their home states, but the citizens of all 50 states. This bill will ensure our Veterans’ educational benefits reflect that important principle. And because H.R. 357 saves the government money, it’s a win for taxpayers as well as Veterans.
Posted on 2/3/2014
Urgent Action Needed! In State Tuition Bill on Final Approach in House
H.R. 357, the “GI Bill Tuition Fairness Act” by Representative Jeff Miller (R-FL) addresses a key AFSA goal by requiring schools who receive GI Bill education payments to provide Veterans their education at in-state tuition rates, regardless of the Veteran’s residency status. If approved, this bill would ensure students who attend college on the Post-9/11 GI Bill are not punished for faithfully fulfilling their military service obligations away from their original state of residency.