Legislative News

Defense Policy Bill Talks Stumble Over Military Benefits Dispute

Tuesday, November 25, 2014 / Legislative News

By Megan Scully, CQ Roll Call

Negotiations on the final defense policy bill have stalled amid disagreements between House and Senate Armed Services committee leaders over issues affecting military benefits, congressional sources tracking the bill said Tuesday.

Committee leaders had hoped to finalize the negotiated bill early this week, but they have reached an impasse over differences in the two measures on cost-saving Pentagon proposals to increase some TRICARE pharmacy co-pays and reduce the basic housing allowance for military personnel.

Senate Committee on Armed Services Completes Markup of the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2015

Tuesday, May 27, 2014 / Legislative News

The bottom line of the mark-up includes:

  • Includes the Department’s proposals concerning the pay raise (1 percent rather than the 1.8 percent under current law), the housing allowance (allowing the Department to increase BAH at a rate below inflation), and increased pharmacy copays for prescriptions filled outside of military treatment facilities.
  • Does not include the Department’s proposals to establish enrollment fees for TRICARE for Life beneficiaries, the reorganization of the TRICARE program, or the cut to the commissary subsidy (although it does authorize the commissaries to purchase and sell generics).

House Passes Defense Authorization Bill

Friday, May 23, 2014 / Legislative News

By Connor Obrien, CQ Roll Call

The House Thursday passed its fiscal 2015 defense authorization bill by a wide bipartisan margin, on the same day the Senate Armed Services Committee is expected to approve its own measure.  The House advanced 325-98 the annual defense policy legislation (HR 4435) after disposing of 169 amendments, debating all proposals Wednesday night and holding a rapid-fire vote session Thursday morning before final passage.

Thursday’s vote puts the authorization measure on the path to enactment for the 53rd consecutive year. At the outset of floor debate, House Armed Services Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., who will retire from Congress at the end of his current term, called

House panel rejects benefits cuts in 2015 defense budget

Wednesday, April 30, 2014 / Legislative News

In the first official congressional action on the Pentagon’s proposed 2015 budget, House lawmakers have rejected proposed cuts in housing allowances and commissary funding, as well as an overhaul of the Tricare system that would increase out-of-pocket costs for some beneficiaries.

But members of the House Armed Services Committee’s personnel panel remained noticeably silent on the Defense Department’s proposed 1 percent basic pay raise for troops next year, opening the door for another smaller-than-expected pay boost in January.

And the lawmakers also signaled that they want service members to play a role in deciding what pay and benefits cuts they’ll see in the

Senate Blocks S. 1982

Thursday, March 6, 2014 / Legislative News

WASHINGTON (AP) undefined A divided Senate on Thursday derailed Democratic legislation that would have provided $21 billion for medical, education and job-training benefits for the nation's veterans. The bill fell victim to election-year disputes over spending and fresh penalties against Iran. Each party covets the allegiance of the country's 22 million veterans and their families, and each party blamed the other for turning the effort into a chess match aimed at forcing politically embarrassing votes.

Republicans used a procedural move to block the bill after Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., chided GOP lawmakers about their priorities.

Senate Clears Advanced VA Appropriations

Wednesday, February 26, 2014 / Legislative News

WASHINGTON, Feb. 25 – The Senate today advanced legislation expanding health care, education, employment and other benefits for veterans. The 99-0 vote clears the way for a Senate debate on the bill by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. “We have made progress but we still have a long way to go if we are to keep faith with those who have put their lives on the line to defend us,” Sanders said in a Senate floor speech before the vote. “I hope very much that we will go down that road together, that we will tell the American people that at least on this one issue we can stand together and protect the interests of those people who have sacrificed so much for our country.”

GI Bill Tuition Fairness Act of 2013 - PASSES 390-0

Thursday, February 13, 2014 / Legislative News

GI Bill Tuition Fairness Act of 2013 - (Sec. 3) Directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA), for purposes of the educational assistance programs administered by the Secretary, to disapprove courses of education provided by a public educational institution that does not charge tuition and fees for veterans at the same rate that is charged for in-state residents, regardless of the veteran's state of residence. Provides for the treatment of veterans enrolled in courses at such institutions before July 1, 2015.

(Sec. 4) Extends through FY2018 the authorization of appropriations for: (1) a monthly assistance allowance to disabled veterans training or competing for the Paralympic Team; and (2) grants to U.S. Paralympics, Inc.

House Backs Military Pension Measure By Connor O'Brien, CQ Roll Call

Thursday, February 6, 2014 / Legislative News

House lawmakers endorsed legislation Tuesday that would repeal a cut in the cost-of-living adjustment to pensions for military retirees of working age. The House advanced 326-90 the bill (S 25) under suspension of the rules, an expedited process that requires a two-thirds majority for passage. House Republican leaders had planned to attach the measure to a bill (S 540) to extend the federal government’s borrowing authority (S 540), but changed course after determining that a majority of Republicans would not support the debt limit legislation.

The bill would modify the December budget agreement (PL 113-67), which included a 1 percentage point reduction in the annual cost-of-living adjustment for the pensions of military retirees under age 62. Under the legislation, the pension adjustment would apply only to members of the armed forces, or former members, who joined the military after Jan. 1, 2014.


Monday, February 3, 2014 / Legislative News

Comprehensive Veterans Health and Benefits and Military Retirement Pay Restoration Act of 2014

Section 1:  Short title and table of contents

Section 2:  References to title 38, United States Code

Section 3: Budgetary effects