Full House Passes FY15 NDAA
The House passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2015 (FY15) on May 22 by a vote of 325 - 98. As reported previously, our Association was pleased the legislation did not include many of the most damaging provisions in the Administration’s budget proposal. The House bill rejects proposals to eliminate most TRICARE plans, reduce housing allowances, and cut commissary benefits. It also 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 bill also included provisions to reduce the appropriations for the Commissary by $100 million dollars in FY15 and to conduct a review of the management, food, and pricing options for the Defense Commissary Agency by an independent agency. Twenty-five million dollars in supplemental funding for school districts impacted by large number of military-connected children was also included.
We were pleased that a provision calling for improved consistency in data collection and reporting on suicides of Reserve Component members and family members was included in the bill.
The FY2015 NDAA version passed by the House also included a number of amendments that affect military families. Several of these amendments we had directly supported as individual legislation including:
- Prohibiting the Department of Defense from using funds to close commissary stores.
- Making breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling available under the TRICARE program.
- Making reproductive counseling and infertility treatments more accessible for military families. The NDAA calls for a report on what steps the Department is taking to ensure military personnel and their families have access to reproductive counseling and treatments for infertility, including in vitro fertilization.
- Increasing the authorization for Impact Aid by one additional year
The co-chairs of the House Military Family Caucus, Representatives McMorris Rogers (R-5th/WA) and Bishop (D-2nd/GA) asked for a report evaluating the progress of the Military Spouse Employment Program (MSEP) in reducing military spouse unemployment, reducing the wage gap between military spouses and their civilian counterparts, and addressing the underemployment of military spouses.
Other amendments included:
- Expanding maternity leave for the active duty service members by an unpaid 6 weeks to be in line with the Family Medical Leave Act, while allowing commanders the discretion to call service members back to duty at any given time to maintain unit readiness.
- Requiring the National Institute of Mental Health to study the risk and resiliency of United States Special Operations Forces and effectiveness of Preservation of the Force and Families Program.
- Directing the Secretary of Defense to conduct a report for Congress on the prevalence of black mold in buildings located on military bases. Provides that after the report is complete, buildings found to contain black mold should be added to the appropriate priority list at DoD to replace the building or conduct renovations.
While the House bill passed today, the Senate has just started their mark-up. We will continue to keep you informed as the NDAA works its way toward final passage.
Until military families are relieved of the weight of war, we hope you will continue to contribute to their wellbeing.
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