AFSA HQ Newsletter – February 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; 2nd Session; February 16-22

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

COLA CUTS REPEALED!!!

Thanks to a collective effort by your AFSA advocates, our partners in The Military Coalition, and our membership’s efforts via CapWiz, the contentious cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) reductions set to be implemented as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act (BBA) of 2013 have been avoided.  The 1% COLA reductions were known to be unpopular and many Members of Congress voted for the BBA with intentions to address the COLA issue after the fact.  By virtue of today’s actions, that’s one promise you can say Congress has kept with the military and Veteran community.

Much of the debate leading up to this activity centered on how the repeal, costing between $6 and $7 billion, was going to get paid for.  This was evidenced by the almost 2 dozen bills authored between both chambers to repeal the COLA cuts.  However, another provision of the BBA had Medicare spending already extended at sequestration levels by 2 years, now it will be extended 1 more year to cover these costs.  February 11th the House passed this provision by a count of 326-90, one day later it passed the Senate 95-3.

MIC3 Full Court Press from Coast to Coast

Recently AFSA stepped up pressure on the 4 remaining states not yet on to adopt the Military Interstate Children’s Compact.  This week we see our CEO in Oregon and Director of Military & Government Relations in New Hampshire where they are talking with state leaders and attending hearings on legislation that would permit these two states to join.  We will provide an update of the CEO & M&G Director efforts in our next issue of OC.  Also, in case you are wondering, the other 2 non-participating states are New York and Minnesota.  We hope to have all 50 on board by year’s end.

Debt Ceiling Scuffle

Once billed as the next “major budget battle,” this week’s debate over the raising the debt ceiling looked more like a playground scuffle.  With little or no fanfare, Congress approved legislation to suspend the debt ceiling through March 15, 2015.  The legislation is already headed to the President who is expected to sign it into law.

Deputy VA Secretary Confirmed

Sloan Gibson, President and CEO of the United Services Organization was confirmed by Senate on Tuesday to serve as deputy secretary at the VA.   Gibson was nominated for the position last September.  He has been at the USO since 2008.

Religious Accommodations in the Military

The House Armed Services Committee “went there,” religion and politics were brought together last week in a hearing to discuss whether the military has gone too far or not far enough.  “The line between religious accommodation and restricting religious freedoms is a very thin line” said Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH).  Lead chaplains from all services spoke about how they or the corps have not been handcuffed or coerced in what they are allowed to say or how they practice according to their individual governing denomination’s practices.  Assistant Secretary for Military Personnel Policy, Virginia Penrod, stated the have been no substantiated issues by any clergy at this point.  The discussion then went to wearing of religious articles in uniform and how people in the military can obtain waivers to AFI 36-2903, which is covered by DoDI 1300.17.  Secretary Penrod stated that as of right now the service Secretaries are the approval authority and have to be re-submitted with every new duty assignment.  The new instruction is due out this summer that will include revisions based on the new changes in the recently enacted law.

General Selva Nominated to Head TRANSCOM

Last week the President nominated Air Force General Paul Selva to serve as the next commander of the US Transportation Command.  If confirmed by the Senate, he’ll be replacing Air Force General William Fraser, who has been serving in that position for the past 2 and a half years.  Selva is currently the commander of TRANSCOM’s air component, Air Mobility Command.

LEADERSHIP THOUGHTS

“And on the subject of burning books: I want to congratulate librarians, not famous for their physical strength or their powerful political connections or their great wealth, who, all over this country, have staunchly resisted anti-democratic bullies who have tried to remove certain books from their shelves, and have refused to reveal to thought police the names of persons who have checked out those titles.

So the America I loved still exists, if not in the White House or the Supreme Court or the Senate or the House of Representatives or the media. The America I love still exists at the front desks of our public libraries.” – Kurt Vonnegut Jr., A Man Without a Country (2005)


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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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