NDAA Conference Committee Bill Passes
The House and Senate passed the final version of the FY2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA-H.R.2810) that focuses on military readiness. The bill authorizes nearly $700 billion, which is $26 billion more than the Administration’s request and $80 billion more than sequestration spending caps still in effect.
The final bill includes:
• Keeping a grandfather clause to shield current retirees younger than 65 from an additional TRICARE fee increase (Senate NDAA repealed grandfather clause)
• Imposing a pharmacy co-pay for retirees younger than 65
• Eliminating the expiration date of May 2018 for the Special Survivor Indemnity Allowance (SSIA) for military widows, and increasing the SSIA based on the annual cost-of-living-allowance (COLA)
• Increasing pay (larger than requested) for troops by 2.4 percent, the largest pay increase in 8 years
• Eliminating a scheduled one-percent cut in Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH), and stopping a Senate provision to cut the dependent children rate for dual-military couples
• Boosting military end strength by more than 20,000 service members (4,000 Navy & 1,000 Marines)
• Mandate all Reserve Component members that are mobilized to receive premobilization and transitional health care
• Providing additional measures to protect victims of sexual assault including prosecution of perpetrators of non-consensual sharing of intimate images
• Allowing reimbursement up to $500 for a spouse’s expenses related to obtaining occupational license or certification in another state
• Directing the Correction of Military Records Boards to consider additional medical evidence relating to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or traumatic brain injury (TBI) when reviewing a discharge
The bill will now go to President Trump who is expected to sign it into law. The bill does exceed the (sequestration) budget cap for defense spending and will require additional congressional action to be enacted. The President, along with the leaders of both the House and Senate, must strike a deal to eliminate or raise the sequestration caps for Defense spending in the next few weeks. Members are encouraged to go to the FRA Action Center to ask their legislators to exclude Defense spending from sequestration.