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.
The bottom line of the mark-up includes:
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
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
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.
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 - (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 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.
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