2010 LEGISLATIVE CALLS
To view the Calls for the 111th Congress year 2010 click HERE
TO RESPOND TO THESE CALLs, PUT YOUR ZIP CODE IN THE BOX BELOW AND HIT “GO”.
**Answer the last two Calls TODAY!**
10-12: TRICARE Retired Reserve
10-13: Post 9/11 GI Bill Improvements
Subj: 10-12 Ask recipients to urge OMB to expedite its review and approval of the new TRR rule as soon as possible so that the Department of Defense (DoD) may begin offering enrollment in the Fall of 2010.
10-13 Ask your Representatives to show their support for the National Guard by co-sponsoring H.R. 5933.
Take Action Now!!
TO RESPOND TO CALL 10-12 CLICK HERE <http://www.memberconnections.com/links/link.cgi?l=1520713&h=9000021&e=LCNG-20100826163959>
TO RESPOND TO CALL 10-13 CLICK HERE <http://www.memberconnections.com/links/link.cgi?l=1520714&h=9000021&e=LCNG-20100826163959>
Excerpt from the EANGUS Minuteman Update…
The Week at a Glance:
The Senate continues to vote on amendments to a bill to overhaul financial regulations. Leaders hope to finish the bill by midweek.
Bills of Interest This Week
S 3217: Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010
HR 2546: Blue Star/Gold Star Flag Act of 2009
HR 5099; HR 5128; HR 5136: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011
The House reconvenes Tuesday to vote on a number of minor bills and resolutions. Later in the week, the House is expected to take up a bill to extend expired tax provisions and other programs, which could also see action in the Senate.
Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs hearing on the Gulf Coast oil spill, with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and BP president Lamar McKay. 2:30 p.m. Monday, 342 Dirksen
Senate Foreign Relations hearings on the new U.S.-Russia arms reduction treaty, with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton , Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen . 10 a.m. Tuesday, 106 Dirksen
Senate Energy and Natural Resources hearing on offshore oil drilling, with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar . 11 a.m. Tuesday, 325 Russell
Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation hearing on the response efforts to the Gulf Coast oil spill. 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, 253 Russell
Senate Environment and Public Works hearing on the response to the Gulf Coast oil spill, with EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar . 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, 406 Dirksen
House Transportation and Infrastructure hearing on oil spill prevention. 10 a.m. Wednesday, 2167 Rayburn
This Week in the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee
Full Committee Hearing
Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee (Chairman Akaka, D-Hawaii) will hold a hearing on pending legislation.
Contact: Bill Brew – Democratic Staff Director at 202-224-9126
S 1780 — Honor America’s Guard-Reserve Retirees Act, a bill to amend Title 38, United States Code, to deem certain service in the reserve components as active service for purposes of laws administered by the secretary of Veterans Affairs.
S 1866 — A bill to amend Title 38, United States Code, to provide for the eligibility of parents of certain deceased veterans for interment in national cemeteries.
S 1939 — Agent Orange Equity Act of 2009
S 1940 — A bill to require the secretary of Veterans Affairs to carry out a study on the effects on children of exposure of their parents to herbicides used in support of the United States and allied military operations in the republic of Vietnam during the Vietnam era, and for other purposes.
S 2751 — A bill to designate the Department of Veterans Affairs medical center in Big Spring, Texas, as the George H. O’Brien Jr. Department of Veterans Medical Center.
S 3035 — Veterans Traumatic Brain Injury Care Improvement Act of 2010
S 3107 — Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2010
S 3192 — Fair Access to Veterans Benefits Act of 2010
S 3234 — Veteran Employment Assistance Act of 2010
S 3286 — A bill to require the secretary of Veterans Affairs to carry out a pilot program on the award of grants to state and local government agencies and nonprofit organizations to provide assistance to veterans with their submittal of claims to the Veterans Benefits Administration, and for other purposes.
S 3314 — A bill to require the secretary of Veterans Affairs and the Appalachian Regional Commission to carry out a program of outreach for veterans who reside in Appalachia, and for other purposes.
S 3325 — A bill to amend Title 38, United States Code, to authorize the waiver of the collection of co-payments for telehealth and telemedicine visits of veterans, and for other purposes.
S 3330 — Veterans’ Health and Radiation Safety Act of 2010
S 3348 — A bill to amend Title 38, United States Code, to provide for the treatment of documents that express disagreement with decisions of the Board of Veterans’ Appeals and that are misfiled with the board within 120 days of such decisions as motions for reconsideration of such decisions, and for other purposes.
S 3352 — Veterans Pensions Protection Act of 2010
S 3355 — Veterans One Source Act of 2010
S 3367 — A bill to amend Title 38, United States Code, to increase the rate of pension for disabled veterans who are married to one another and both of whom require regular aid and attendance, and for other purposes.
S 3368 — A bill to amend Title 38, United States Code, to authorize certain individuals to sign claims filed with the secretary of Veterans Affairs on behalf of claimants, and for other purposes.
S 3370 — A bill to amend Title 38, United States Code, to improve the process by which an individual files jointly for social security and dependency and indemnity compensation, and for other purposes.
Upcoming Senate Armed Services Committee Activities
FISCAL 2011 DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION: AIRLAND
May 25, 9 a.m., 222 Russell Bldg.
FISCAL 2011 DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION: READINESS AND MANAGEMENT SUPPORT
May 25, 10:30 a.m., 222 Russell Bldg.
FISCAL 2011 DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION: EMERGING THREATS AND CAPABILITIES
May 25, 2 p.m., 222 Russell Bldg.
FISCAL 2011 DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION: STRATEGIC FORCES
May 25, 3:30 p.m., 222 Russell Bldg.
FISCAL 2011 DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION: PERSONNEL
May 25, 5 p.m., 222 Russell Bldg.
FISCAL 2011 DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION
May 26, 2:30 p.m., 222 Russell Bldg.
May 27, 9:30 a.m., 222 Russell Bldg.
Full Committee Markup
Upcoming Armed Services Committee Activities
FISCAL 2011 DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION
May 19, 10 a.m., 2118 Rayburn Bldg.
Full Committee Markup
FISCAL 2011 BUDGET: MILITARY RESALE, MORALE, WELFARE AND RECREATION
Date TBA, 2118 Rayburn Bldg.
Upcoming House Veterans’ Affairs Activities
VA INFORMATION SECURITY
May 19, 10 a.m., 334 Cannon Bldg.
MILITARY SEXUAL TRAUMA ISSUES
May 20, 10 a.m., 334 Cannon Bldg.
Subcommittee Joint Hearing
VETERANS’ LOAN GUARANTY PROGRAM
May 20, 1 p.m., 334 Cannon Bldg.
May 26, 10 a.m., 334 Cannon Bldg.
Full Committee Other Event
VETERANS’ HEALTH LEGISLATION
May 27, 10 a.m., 334 Cannon Bldg.
PENDING VETERANS AFFAIRS LEGISLATION
June 10, 1 p.m., 334 Cannon Bldg.
VA RURAL HEALTH ISSUES AND TECHNOLOGY
June 24, 10 a.m., 334 Cannon Bldg.
VETERANS’ SUICIDE PREVENTION OUTREACH EFFORTS
Date TBA, 334 Cannon Bldg.
GULF WAR ILLNESS
Date TBA, 334 Cannon Bldg.
House Leans Toward 1.9% Pay Raise
House panel has voted to give the military a 1.9 percent pay raise next January. That would be a half percentage point higher than what the Obama administration wanted simply to match private sector wage growth. The House armed services subcommittee on military personnel panel also approved increases next year in hostile fire pay and family separation allowance, enough to restore the relative value of these payments to what they were in 2004 when they last were adjusted.
But the same panel, marking up the personnel portion of the fiscal 2011 defense authorization bill Wednesday, indicated that the money spigot is off for expanding entitlements to reserve personnel, disabled retirees or widows.
“The subcommittee continues to be frustrated by direct spending barriers that prevent us from making progress on…concurrent receipt of military retirement pay and VA disability, the widow’s tax on the survivor benefits program annuity, and reform of retirement for reserve members,” said Rep. Susan Davis (D-Calif.), the panel’s chairwoman.
In electing to maintain a 12-year string of yearly military raises set higher than wage growth nationally, the subcommittee disregarded pleas from Defense officials not to drive up personnel costs thereby squeezing dollars available for equipment, supplies and other readiness needs.
Previously external pay experts told the Senate personnel subcommittee that the “gap” argument ignores the robust increases made to military housing allowances over the last decade. Military pay, they said, is already very competitive, particularly in this distressed economy.
If housing allowances are included in pay comparisons, said a Congressional Budget Office analyst, military compensation has exceeded private sector pay growth by 11 percent since 1982.
But Davis, in outlining the key personnel initiatives endorsed by her subcommittee, indicated nine years of war allow other facts to hold sway. It is, she said, “painfully apparent that the extraordinary high operations tempo has exacted a high penalty on our service members and their families.”
Support for one more extra bump in military pay was unanimous on the 14-member subcommittee. Rep. Joe Wilson (S.C.), ranking Republican, acknowledged “growing opposition” to adding an extra half percent “on the assertion that military pay now exceeds that of comparable civilian jobs. That’s a false comparison. I would challenge anyone to find a civilian job that has the same set of requirements and risks” as military personnel face.
As to the assertion that personnel costs are crowding out funds for other defense priorities — a case made by Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs — Wilson said the answer is bigger defense budgets, not “asking military personnel to take less.”
Money couldn’t be found, for example, to support President Obama’s call again to allow concurrent receipt of retired pay and disability compensation to 103,000 “Chapter 61” retirees who were forced by disability to leave service short of full 20-year careers. Obama has asked that these retirees be allowed to draw Concurrent Retirement and Disability Pay (CRDP), based on number of years served, plus their VA disability pay.
However, his budget request failed to earmark money to pay for this initiative with its estimated cost of $5.4 billion over its first 10 years. The House personnel subcommittee couldn’t find the money either.
House budget rules — which are ignored when an issue is deemed important enough like the Post-9/11 GI Bill — only allows spending on new entitlements, such as concurrent receipt, if the cost can be paid by reducing some other mandatory or “direct spending” program. No offsets could be found for such purposes this year.
Nor could the panel find money to lower from 60 the age at which reserve retirement begins, or to end the offset of Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) payments for widows who choose to draw VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC). DIC is payable to a surviving spouse if a service member dies on active duty and if the member dies in retirement from service-connected ailments or injuries.
When the full committee takes up the bill later this month, details will become available on planned increases to hostile fire pay and family separation allowances. The House bill also would authorize TRICARE to extend health care coverage to dependent children out to age 26, and to restore housing allowances for dual military couples serving on sea duty.
The Senate military personnel subcommittee will mark up its version of the 2011 authorization bill later this month. That panel’s endorsement of the higher 1.9 percent pay raise essentially would guarantee it for next January.
Boeing Will Bid For U.S. Tanker Deal, Despite Concerns
The Boeing Company announced on Monday that it plans to bid in a multibillion-dollar U.S. Air Force refueling plane competition despite the fact that it remains concerned that rival bidder EADS could have an advantage in the competition because it receives government subsidies.
The two companies must submit bids by July 9 to build 179 new aerial refueling planes for the Air Force — the U.S. military’s third attempt in nine years to begin replacing its aging fleet of KC-135 tankers.
Dan Beck, a Boeing spokesman stated that the company planned to submit a low-cost bid that met all of the Air Force’s requirements, but regretted that its concerns about subsidies to EADS would not be reflected in the Pentagon’s evaluation of competing bids.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates canceled the last tanker deal, which Boeing had lost to EADS and Northrop Grumman Corp after government auditors partially upheld Boeing’s protest and lawmakers became deeply involved in debating the procurement.
One defense official said the Pentagon was keenly aware of the importance of the tanker competition and was at pains to ensure a flawless process this time around — and that meant strictly limiting any conversations with the rival bidders.
“We know we have to get this right this time,” said the official, who was not authorized to speak on the record.
Lawmakers Await Information Before F-35 Vote
Legislators on defense committees are disgruntled because they will have to vote on whether to continue funding a second type of engine for the latest warplane without complete information. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates wants to pay for work on only one kind of engine for the F-35 fighter jet and has said he will urge a presidential veto of any bill that does otherwise.
But committees that deal with defense issues are waiting for the Pentagon to provide cost and additional information. Lawmakers complain that the lack of a response on one of the most important issues in this year’s defense budget fits a pattern of stonewalling by the Pentagon and other agencies.
Two House Armed Services subcommittees last week recommended that the full committee authorize a total of $485 million to continue developing the second engine for the F-35. The full committee is scheduled to mark up the bill May 19.
The F-35 is being built in three variants — for the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps — and will also be procured by several U.S. allies. The alternate engine, called the F136, is being developed by General Electric Co. and Rolls Royce PLC and would be built in Ohio, Indiana and the United Kingdom. Proponents of the F136 would like it to be put in some F-35 jets, while the original engine, the Pratt & Whitney F135, made in Connecticut, is used in others.
Last year, the Obama administration issued a veto threat over the program while Congress debated the fiscal 2010 defense budget. But the White House stipulated that the veto would happen only if the engine spending would seriously disrupt the overall F-35 program. Congress provided $465 million for the second engine in fiscal 2010 (PL 111-118) and avoided the veto largely because it did not shift money from the purchase of the planes.
Ever since Gates testified about the engine program in February, the House Armed Services Committee has formally and repeatedly asked Gates and his acquisition undersecretary, Ashton B. Carter, for more details.
Similarly, Senate Armed Services Committee aides said they are still waiting for the same critical information about the program and answers to other questions posed at an April 30 meeting with Defense officials.