HASC Approves FY16 NDAA

May 1, 2015

HASC members rejected recommendations to consolidate TRICARE, establish new TRICARE for Life enrollment fees, and have working age retirees pay to use military treatment facilities. DoD’s budget submission created the first ever means-tested copay system based on military rank.

Legislators also opposed moves to further decrease housing allowances and commissary funding. The administration’s request would slash $322 million from commissary funding.

House lawmakers kept the active duty pay raise at 2.3 percent. The administration’s request capped military pay below private sector wage growth for a third consecutive year. The request called for continued pay caps for a total of seven years.

 Your Grassroots Support Pays Off

Legislators took MOAA’s messaging to heart. In April, MOAA chapter and council leaders from across the country “stormed” Capitol Hill to meet with nearly all 535 members of the House and Senate. Stormers asked legislators to support a bipartisan debt-reduction package that avoids disproportional penalties on servicemembers and their families.

Storming the Hill participants specifically focused on three issues: 

  • sustaining military pay and benefits; 
  • rejecting disproportional TRICARE fee hikes and plan changes; and
  • eliminating harmful sequestration budget cuts.

“Legislators listen when constituents have a compelling message,” said MOAA’s Director of Government Relations Col. Mike Hayden, USAF (Ret). “Fortunately for us, Congress recognizes that many of the proposals to erode pay and benefits that have come out over the past couple of years are too much for troops and families to face.”

 House Mark Offers Improvements

The HASC mark includes enhancements and oversight of how the military handles sexual assault cases. It expands financial protections against unscrupulous payday lenders, and rejects another round of base closures.

The bill also includes MOAA-supported language to expand Space-Available travel to dependents of deployed family members. A recommendation from the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission (MCRMC) called for extending privileges to Space-A travel to dependents of family members deployed for longer than 120 days; the House bill reduces the eligibility period to 30 days.

The HASC mark also included the MCRMC recommendation to require a military child identifier for military dependent students, in order to assess the unique needs of military families.  The recommendation requiring the DoD and VA collaboration, by establishing a Joint Uniform Formulary was also included.

The full House is expected to take up the defense bill in May.