House Leaves without Passing a Defense Bill

July 31, 2015

Despite early optimism from lawmakers, Congress was unable to pass a final defense bill before leaving town for a month long summer recess. 

Stuck in a stalemate over several key compensation and benefits issues, House and Senate lawmakers will have to return to the negotiation process in September.   

The following table shows the compensation and benefits positions of the House- and Senate-passed defense bills:  

 Defense Bill July 2015

In its initial draft, House lawmakers rejected proposals to nickel and dime servicemembers and their families, but the Senate is pushing to keep them in the final version of the defense bill.  

In a reported memo to negotiators, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) said, “The House believes it must keep faith with our military retirees and their families and that we should seek to make other improvements in TRICARE before digging more deeply into the pockets of our servicemembers and retirees.”  

Senate lawmakers argue that personnel costs are “eating the defense budget alive,” a tired piece of rhetoric MOAA has repeatedly debunked.  

The silver lining to Congress failing to pass the defense bill before the August recess is that now you have the chance to influence your lawmakers.   

Most elected officials return to their home districts to meet with constituents during the August recess. Use this opportunity to visit your elected officials and discuss:   

  • Preventing the further erosion of pay and benefits;
  • Authorizing full concurrent receipt of military retired pay and disability compensation; and
  • Eliminating the dollar for dollar offset of military survivor pay and VA indemnity compensation.

MOAA has developed fact sheets on these three issues for you to use. For more information, check out our August recess package.