AFSA HQ Newsletter – February 15th

This newsletter is produced and released on a weekly basis by AFSA HQ. To read the full newsletter, as well as archived entries, visit the AFSA On Call Newsletter section of www.hqafsa.org.

LEGISLATIVE & OTHER NEWS

113th Congress; 1st Session

  • Senate: In Session – contact lawmakers via DC offices
  • House: In Session – contact lawmakers via DC offices
  • Capwiz: open 24/7/365 – communicate with Congress any time on any subject

DoD Warns Armed Services Committees

Earlier this week AFSA dispatched its registered lobbyists to cover House and Senate Armed Services Committee (HASC, SASC) hearings where lawmakers heard directly from many of DoD’s top leaders on the adverse impacts of sequestration. Your AFSA team appeared to be the only military service organization represented in the room for this critical hearing. The full committees heard testimony from Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, DoD Comptroller Robert Hale, and all 6 generals of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Congressional and service leaders painted a bleak picture of the nation’s defense capabilities, should the sequester cuts kick in. SASC Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) said sequestration would be “irrational and arbitrary,” Deputy Secretary Carter said it would be “devastating,” and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Martin Dempsey said it would “put the nation at risk.” Our Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh said “Sequestration threatens to carve crucial capability from America’s Air Force, with alarming and immediate effects on people, readiness and infrastructure, and, eventually, on modernization. If it occurs, it will significantly undermine your Air Force’s readiness and responsiveness today.” Perhaps the best response to the questioning in recent days came yesterday from General Dempsey. Asked by HASC Ranking Member Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) whether the military could absorb further spending reductions, Dempsey responded with one of his own. “The question I would ask this Committee is, “What do you want your military to do, said Dempsey. “If you want it to be doing what it’s doing today, then we can’t give you another dollar. If you want us to do something less than that, we’re all there with you and we’ll figure it out.”

Lawmakers at both hearings worked to assess the relationship of risk and sequestration. All were clearly concerned with what they heard but not all were as forgiving with DoD’s role in the effort to mitigate the effects of sequestration. For example, Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA) wanted to know why the service leaders waited until December to begin planning for the fiscal disaster that awaits them. In response, Army Chief of Staff General Ray Odierno told Forbes that the military decided not to plan for sequestration because they were told “it would never happen.”

Sequestration is a result of congressional and Administration action and many House and Senate lawmakers and the President signed it into law. In the end, the responsibility rests with them to ensure our military is properly funded to protect our national security interests here & abroad. Just over one legislative week remains until the sequester kicks in on March 1 and leading members are now talking about the automatic cuts as if their onset is a given. They still have time to act, but with each passing day this bad budget policy becomes harder to avoid.

AFSA CAPWIZ now has a NEW LETTER on sequestration and we hope you will take advantage of this quick and easy way to communicate with your national leaders. Also, we recommend you make a toll free call to each of your two senators and your representative to express your concerns. The number to use is 1 (888) 762-8760.

CR in the Works

Last week, AFSA reported the House was drafting another continuing resolution instead, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers says a plan is currently in the works that   would extend current funding levels for most federal agencies through September 30, and includes the House VA/MILCON bill passed last year. The new CR might also offer DoD the ability to move funds between accounts to help departments mitigate the adverse effects of sequestration. The change would allow the Pentagon to allocate funds where needed, a task that currently requires congressional approval. AFSA suspects many lawmakers will have a problem with extending DoD this level of authority since it is not done for other federal agencies and spending oversight is a principal responsibility of Congress. We are concerned with “this possible reallocation of funds without Congressional oversight” as it is unclear which accounts and programs will be affected by the freely drifting funds. Last but not least, we are told the CR being drafted won’t provide any additional appropriations beyond the current $1.043 trillion threshold on discretionary spending for FY 2013. Perhaps even more important, it would not take into account the impending sequester which would lob about $70 billion off that top line figure.

FY2014 Federal Budget update

AFSA has heard the President intends to present his FY 2014 Budget proposal on or about March 25th. This tracks in line with our previous prediction that the budget plan will not be available until late March or early April.   By law, the budget is due not later than the first Monday in February.

Military-to-Civilian Skills Certification Bill Passed

On Tuesday members of the House passed H.R. 235, the “Veteran Emergency Medical Technician Support Act of 2013” which would streamline state requirements and procedures for veterans with military emergency medical training, to become civilian EMTs.   As many of our readers know, military medics receive some of the best medical training in the world so we were please when Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) introduced this bill in January to help those veterans apply some of that training toward civilian certifications.  By the way, Rep. Kinzinger, has served in the Air Force Special Operations, Air Combat Command, Air Mobility Command, and currently serves in the Air National Guard as a pilot.

Senate Vote on New SECDEF

On Thursday a Senate vote to end debate on the nomination of former Senator Chuck Hagel (NE) as Secretary of Defense failed 58 to 40.   Under Senate rules, 60 affirmative votes were required to move forward to final confirmation. Yesterday’s unsuccessful effort does not mean Hagel’s nomination is doomed.   Another vote is expected when the chamber returns from recess the week after next.

Veterans Status Bill Reintroduced

On Wednesday Representative Tim Walz (D-MN) introduced HR 679, the ‘Honor Guard-Reserve Retires Act” which grants full veteran status to members of the guard and reserve components who have served at least 20 years, but have not been called up for active duty. Six other House members signed on as original sponsors of the bill. Despite spending two decades serving our nation and standing ready to be deployed at a moment’s notice to anywhere in the world in defense of freedom, under current law these brave men and women cannot legally call themselves veterans. Walz believes the time is now to change this outdated policy and give our brave military retirees the honor they deserve. “These men and women took an oath to defend our nation at any cost and have dedicated their lives in service to our country,” said Walz, a Member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee. “Many stood at the ready for decades in defense of our nation and the time is now to give them the honor and recognition they have earned and deserve. I am proud to introduce this legislation and am optimistic it will finally become law this year.” AFSA greatly appreciates Rep. Walz’s early engagement of one of our many Guard and Reserve planks on the current legislative platform.

SCHOLARSHIPS

The Air Force Sergeants Association (AFSA) and the Airmen Memorial Foundation (AMF) joined together to conduct a scholarship program to financially assist the undergraduate studies of eligible, dependent children of the Total Air Force which includes Air Force Active Duty (AFAD), Air National Guard (ANG) , and Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC) enlisted members in active duty, retired, or veteran status. Applications are screened and verified for eligibility prior to submission to the respective selection committee(s). The AFSA and AFSA International Auxiliary programs have membership requirements, but there are no association membership requirements for the AMF or CMSAF programs.

Applications for the 2013 academic year are available between January 1 and March 31. Completed application packages with all required documents can be sent to AFSA Headquarters between January 1 and March 31, incomplete packages or packages received after March 31 are ineligible for consideration.

LEADERSHIP THOUGHTS

2013 could be a very bad year for those in and for those who have worn this nation’s uniform in the past. It all depends on you and me, and how hard we fight to protect our Airmen, our Air Force and our military establishment! As you’re well aware, the federal budget and the national economy will be front-burner in the next couple of weeks. And in a world of trillion-dollar deficits, spending cuts, tax increases, debt ceiling standoffs, and partisan brinksmanship, it would be very easy for those in uniform or now out of uniform, survivors and their family members interests to be forgotten or trampled in the political process. As Airmen and AFSA members, only you and I can put a “halt” and stop and America’s budget problems from being shouldered by the 1 percent who have fought and defended America’s freedoms. To win these and future battles, we’re going to need our friends in Congress to go to bat for us now more than ever before. Yes, our country faces some difficult economic decisions. But we can’t let our military members, retirees, veterans, survivors and family members be the major target area to “shoulder the greatest portion of the cuts”. Now is the time we need you to stand together with AFSA, to contact your elected officials and let them know just how you feel!

“Our men and women in uniform are doing their jobs; we in Congress are not!”

Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN)

Feedback Please, How We Doing?

Are we on target or do we need to recalibrate our sights? Is there a particular area of interest you think “On-Call” should cover in more detail? Fill in the blanks… “I THINK AFSA SHOULD __________.”   Send inputs to: afsaoc@hqafsa.org.

AFSA MEMBER BENEFITS

AFSA Insurance – Life & Health

For information and applications on any of these insurance plans please contact Marsh Affinity Group Services toll-free at (800) 882-5541, or online here. Please note; coverage may vary or not be issued in all States.

  • Accidental Death & Dismemberment Insurance Plan
  • Cancer Expense Insurance
  • Group Dental Insurance
  • Long-Term Care Insurance
  • Short-Term Recovery Insurance Plan
  • TRICARE Supplement Insurance
  • Life Line Health Screenings

Over 20 Other Items of Interest

For a complete and detailed listing of the many benefits to AFSA membership, go to the AFSA webpage and click on the left menu listing “Member Benefits” or just click here.


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This newsletter is produced and released on a weekly basis by AFSA HQ. To read the full newsletter, as well as archived entries, visit the AFSA On Call Newsletter section of www.hqafsa.org.

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