What’s in the first round of the House NDAA?

House of Representatives in session

The long process of passing legislation to fund the Department of Defense (DoD) for the next fiscal year has moved another step forward. Since the Administration released its budget in March, the Senate and House Armed Services Committees have been studying the proposals. Each Armed Services Committee has a number of subcommittees tasked with reviewing specific areas of the Defense budget, such as personnel and compensation.  On April 29, the Military Personnel Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee released its version of the Fiscal Year 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (FY2015 NDAA) (H.R. 4435), known as the mark. Next step is for the entire committee to vote on the bill and send it on to the full House for consideration.

We are disappointed that the subcommittee did not address the pay raise. This probably means they will accept the Administration budget proposal of a one percent pay raise for FY2015. However, in other important respects the subcommittee’s mark differed from the Administration budget, as we expected it would.

We’re pleased that the subcommittee recognized our opposition to proposals that would have reduced benefits and lessened the spending power of military families. The subcommittee mark rejects proposals to eliminate most TRICARE plans, reduce housing allowances and cut commissary benefits. The subcommittee included a requirement for outside experts to review and assess the commissary program to identify efficiencies that could lead to cost savings without reducing military family benefits.

The mark also includes a proposal to require the Secretary of Defense to prescribe a policy for a standard method of collecting, reporting, and assessing suicide data involving members of the Armed Forces and their dependents, including Reserve Components. This is an issue that has been a priority of ours for a long time and one we addressed in our recent testimony for the record for the Military Personnel Subcommittee.

The bill also includes an authorization for 25 million dollars of supplementary impact aid for school districts serving large numbers of military children as well as several other provisions concerning the education of military children.

You can read the subcommittee press release. We’ll provide more about H.R. 4435 as the legislative process continues. Remember this is just the start of the process. Many changes will be incorporated before the final bill is passed.

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