AFSA HQ Newsletter – June 14th

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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LEGISLATIVE & OTHER NEWS

113th Congress; 1st Session; Week of June 16-22, 2013

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

Big Week for Defense Legislation

It was a big week for defense-related legislation.  Both chambers were working their respective defense authorization bills while the House nears the end of its annual funding bill for the department as well.  A quick synopsis of each appears below. As a reminder, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is a spending plan while Defense Appropriations bills actually “pay the tab.”

House Nears Completion of Defense Authorization Bill

H.R. 1960, the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2014 is now being considered by the full House.   A total of 172 amendments were cleared for possible debate as part of this process which began on Thursday and is expected to continue well through the day today.  When this bill came to the floor it called for a 1.8% pay rise for the troops and rejected much of what DoD was seeking in terms of TRICARE related fee increases.  These and other items are subject to change as the bills are finalized by the full chamber, and we will be watching their actions closely.

On a related matter, the White House through its principal spokesperson, the Office of Management and Budget, has voiced its objections to the higher-than-requested pay raise and House decision to not raise TRICARE fees this year.  As in previous years, their Statement of Administration Policy threatens to veto the bill if it passes Congress in its present form.

Senate NDAA Developing too

Late on Wednesday afternoon the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) began private deliberations on its version of the FY 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).  Prior to these closed-door sessions, a public venue was held as the Committee worked to resolve concerns with language regarding sexual assault.  The provision considered at the hearing would have taken prosecution decision making authority for offenses like sexual assault outside the immediate chain of command.  Instead, the Committee approved language written by SASC Chairman, Carl Levin (D-MI) that requires a report be provided to commander’s superior in the event they decide not to prosecute a military service member.  Levin’s amendment also makes clear that retaliation towards an accuser is prohibited.  The SASC continued its markup in closed sessions on Thursday; and no further details were available as this edition of On Call was being prepared.

As reported by AFSA earlier this week, the SASC Personnel Subcommittee sided with the Administration by recommending a 1% pay raise for service members in 2014.  This differs from a plan approved by their House counterparts which authorizes a 1.8% pay raise as required by current law.

Additionally, like their House counterparts, the SASC Personnel Subcommittee rejected virtually all of the proposed TRICARE fee increases that DoD was seeking.  We view this welcome news with an ample helping of caution because their position could easily change during the work now being conducted out of view of the public.  Some members of the Senate believe fees should rise, including the Personnel Subcommittee’s Ranking Member, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who has repeatedly said military health care fees must rise to offset cost increases for the department.

Historic Moment

Tuesday’s markup hearing on the Senate’s NDAA was a historic moment.  It was the first time SASC Personnel Subcommittee completed deliberations on its part of the bill (markup) in public.  Prior to this year, closed markups were a standard practice in many of the Subcommittees, Yes, AFSA was in place to witness history happening and we will continue to monitor the development of this key bill.

Appropriations Bill Readied for House Floor

On Wednesday, the House Appropriations Committee unanimously approved a $598.3 billion defense spending bill for FY 2014.  The total includes $512.5 billion for day-to-day operations for the department which, in of itself, exceeds caps mandated by sequestration by slightly more than $28 billion.  The bill also includes $85.8 billion in war funding for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO).  As of yesterday there was no word on when this bill would be brought to the floor.

Furlough vs. DoDDS

While the 2013 calendar year runs through Decembers 31st, the 2013 fiscal year ends 3 months earlier, September 30th to be exact.  Crossing over both is the 2013-2014 school calendar which usually starts in mid-late August.  So what, you ask?

Given the sequester triggered by the 2011 Budget Control Act and DoD’s subsequent furloughs, Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe recently announced their plans to comply.  According to DoDDS-Europe officials, school will be closed on the following days…not as a result of severe weather or holidays…but due to furlough: Aug. 30, Sept. 9, Sept. 16, Sept. 23, and Sept. 30.

LEADERSHIP THOUGHTS

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

– Theodore Roosevelt, POTUS #26

AFSA MEMBER BENEFITS

Bellevue University $500 AFSA Grant

Bellevue University offers AFSA members a $500 military grant to attend Bellevue University as part of our Military Partners program.  Bellevue University will also waive the application fee and provide a Personalized Degree Plan for each student.  To apply for the grant, please click here and select “AFSA” as your military partner.  For more information, contact our prior service enrollment team at 866-676-3614 or at military@bellevue.edu.

Columbia Southern University (CSU) Learning Partnership

The AFSA/CSU partnership provides AFSA members a 10 percent discount on all of CSU’s tuition rates, along with the waived $25 application fee.  This discount is available for all AFSA members, employees, and their immediate family members (spouse and children).  Go to CSU’s website here and select “Air Force Sergeants Association” as the Partner Benefit provider.

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.

MOVING?

Please keep AFSA informed of your new mailing address to facilitate timely receipt of your magazine. Easy to do, just call us at 1-800-6380594 or email staff@hqafsa.org.


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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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