FRA NewsBytes December 5, 2014

FRA Newsbytes 12/05/2014

FRA Newsbytes 12/05/2014

In this issue:
Compromise on 2015 NDAA and 2015 CG Authorization
SecDef Resigns and is Replaced by Former DoD Employee
Federal Spending Bill

Compromise on 2015 NDAA and 2015 CG Authorization
With the end of the session fast approaching, the House and Senate have agreed on an abridged version of the FY 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA-H.R. 3979). The final bill was a compromise on key provisions important to FRA members. The House passed the bill and the Senate is expected to pass it next week. The final bill provides for the following:

  • A smaller than requested increase in pharmacy co-pays (a $3 increase) for retirees under age 65 that takes effect when bill is signed into law;
  • A one percent annual pay increase for active duty and reservists;
  • A one-percent reduction for one year (the Administration requested and the Senate bill provided a five-percent cut over three years) in Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH);
  • A mandatory pharmacy home-delivery program for retirees under age 65 that takes effect January 1, 2016;
    A small reduction in commissary subsidy that should not impact prices;
  • Elimination of the requirement that each 90 days of creditable time toward reserve early retirement must be completed within the same fiscal year;
  • Extends the retiree one-percent COLA cut to service members who joined the military after January 1, 2016 in lieu of January 1, 2014 under the current law; and
  • Improves sexual assault provisions.

The Association wants to thank Shipmates for using the Action Center to contact their legislators on the above-referenced issues. These grassroots efforts were helpful in reducing the harmful impact of the listed changes. FRA’s Legislative Team will continue its efforts to advance FRA-supported provisions that were dropped from the final bill due to lack of time.

In related news, the House and Senate passed the “Howard Coble Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act” (H.R. 5769), which would authorize the U.S. Coast Guard end strength of 43,000 for FY 2015. The legislation also establishes standards, inspections, and employee qualifications for Coast Guard Child Development Centers, and would allow the Coast Guard to provide tuition assistance for eligible spouses to continue their education to obtain a degree and enhance employment opportunities.
SecDef Resigns and is Replaced by Former DoD Employee
Secretary of Defense (SecDef) Chuck Hagel announced his resignation after less than 21 months on the job. Hagel was the first former enlisted member of the military and the first Vietnam veteran to be appointed SecDef. Press reports indicate that he was forced to resign over policy differences with senior White House staff. Hagel will stay on as SecDef until a replacement is confirmed by the Senate.

President Obama will nominate Ashton Carter, who did not serve in the military but joined the Pentagon in 1981 as a civilian analyst working on missile defense. He has a doctorate in physics and also served as Deputy Secretary of Defense from October 2011 to December 2013. During the Clinton Administration, Dr. Carter was Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy (1993–2000).
Federal Spending Bill
The federal government is being kept open with a Continuing Resolution (CR) that keeps government spending at current FY 2014 levels until December 11, 2014. It appears that the House will pass an omnibus spending bill to keep the government open for the remainder of the fiscal year (until Sept. 30, 2015) except of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which will be funded only until the end of March 2015. It appears that the Senate will approve the House spending bill and send it onto the president. The House and Senate Appropriations Committees have been working on an omnibus bill since Congress recessed in August. The House passed five of the 12 spending bills and the Senate did not pass any spending bills for FY 2015.