Senate Up Next to Tackle Defense

May 8, 2015

The Senate Armed Services Committee begins work on its version of the FY16 defense bill May 11. Working on an ambitious timeline, the committee hopes to complete the bill by the end of the week.

Although work at the subcommittee level will be done in several open sessions, final negotiations will be held behind closed doors.

What is known is that the committee intends to move forward with controversial changes to military retirement. SASC Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) said that the committee has been working closely with House colleagues on retirement modification and expects some type of reform this year.

With support for changes to military retirement in both chambers, it is likely that some version of retirement reform will be sent to the president this fall.

What’s yet to be seen is if the SASC will support the White House’s proposed defense budget – calling for a third year of active duty pay caps, increased costs and reduced choices for military health care, and cuts to housing allowances and commissary benefits – or if it will resemble the defense mark passed last week by the House Armed Services Committee.

Thankfully, the House version of the defense bill rejected many of the proposals from the White House, but with stricter budget rules in the Senate, anything is possible. Without finding ways to pay for the measures supported by the House, the Senate may be forced to accept the administration’s budget-driven proposals.

These measures will continue to erode the very pay and benefits needed to sustain the all-volunteer force. 

Please send a MOAA-suggested message telling your senators to act now on TRICARE, pay and housing.