FRA NewsBytes – 07-19-2013

fra_logo_tr-c6-opt1In this edition:
Senate Avoids Meltdown, May Soon Act on NDAA
HVAC Discusses VA Budget Reform
Post-9/11 GI Bill Transfer Changes
DFAS Changes MyPay Password Requirements, Reduces Office Hours
Senate Avoids Meltdown, May Soon Act on NDAA

The Senate avoided partisan gridlock this week by confirming President Obama’s nomination of Richard Cordray as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The confirmation has been pending for more than two years, due to concerns about the bureau and adequate congressional oversight.  In addition, two nominees to the National Labor Relations Board were withdrawn from Senate consideration.

Following the confirmation debate, Senate lawmakers are being urged by Senator Carl Levin (Mich.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, to focus on passing the FY 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA, S. 1197) before the month-long recess, which is scheduled to begin on August 5th.  The House version of the NDAA (H.R. 1960) passed the House on June 14, 2013.

Once both chambers approve their respective versions of the NDAA, a conference committee will reconcile the differences between the House and Senate bills. Neither the House nor the Senate Armed Services Committee version of the NDAA accounts for possible FY 2014 sequestration cuts totaling $52 billion that will take effect unless alternative spending cuts are approved in the coming months. To date, no talks to avert the sequestration cuts or address the situation have been scheduled.

Members are urged to use the FRA Action Center at www.fra.org to tell the President, their senators and representative that these arbitrary, disproportionate cuts to Defense will create a hollow force and negatively impact military readiness, and should be waived for the Department of Defense.

http://www.capwiz.com/fra/issues/alert/?alertid=62389731

HVAC Discusses VA Budget Reform
The House Veterans Affairs Committee (HVAC) discussed legislation this week that would impact the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) budgetary process. The “Putting Veterans Funding First Act of 2013” (H.R. 813), a bill sponsored by Chairman Miller (Fla.) and Ranking Member Michael Michaud (Maine), would require Congress to fully fund the VA’s discretionary budget a year ahead of schedule to ensure all VA services have timely, predictable funding. Currently only VA heath care accounts, which comprise 86 percent of the budget, have a two-year funding cycle and this bi-partisan, FRA-supported bill would provide advanced funding for the remaining 14 percent. FRA believes that two-fiscal year budget authority is necessary for VA in an era where continuing resolutions (CR) and threats of government shutdowns are all too frequent.

Members can use the FRA Action Center at www.fra.org to ask their representative to support this important legislation.

http://www.capwiz.com/fra/issues/alert/?alertid=62448091

Post-9/11 GI Bill Transfer Changes
Effective August 1, 2013, active duty personnel who choose to transfer Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to a family member will be required to serve in uniform for an additional four years, regardless of the years already served. Current policy allows service members to transfer benefits if they had served at least six years and agreed to four additional years on active duty. Those who had 10 or more years of service could transfer the benefits without further commitment, but now they must also agree to serve four more years.

Transferability is only available to active duty members.  If a service member transferred the benefit and voluntarily leaves the military prior to completing the four additional years of service, he/she may be required to pay back those benefits. However, if the service member is involuntarily separated, they may be permitted to waive this requirement.

To apply to transfer the benefit, service members should first contact the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to establish eligibility and then submit a transferability application. For additional information on GI Bill benefits go to:   http://www.gibill.va.gov/

DFAS Changes MyPay Password Requirements, Reduces Office Hours
The Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) is transitioning to a new password security system for its MyPay online pay program. Those using MyPay should go to the links listed below to learn more about the password changes. The new system requires a 15- to 30-character password with the use of special characters. Plus, DFAS changes passwords every 60 days. DFAS has also announced that budget cuts and sequestration is resulting in reduced staffing at many DFAS Customer Care offices, along with possible changes in their hours of operation.

To view the implementation schedule, which is based on the last two digits of the member’s Social Security number, visit https://mypay.dfas.mil/mypay.aspx

To learn more about the new password requirements, visit http://www.dfas.mil/mypayinfo/password.html

A schedule of new operating hours for DFAS Customer Care offices is available at http://www.dfas.mil/customerservice.html