WASHINGTON, DC - As the House prepares to vote on final passage of the FY21 National Defense Authorization Act, media is carrying stories on the consequences if the conference report is not enacted by the end of the calendar year. Unlike other pieces of legislation, conference reports cannot be reintroduced and immediately taken up in a new congress. The process, which could be expected to take several months, would need to begin all over again.
Important Troop Pay Would Be Halted: “The fiscal 2021 defense policy bill (H.R. 6395) also continues authorizations for military bonuses, hazard pay, and special allowances and benefits for civilians serving in combat zones, all of which expire Dec. 31.” Bloomberg 12/7/20
“service members who qualify for hazardous duty pay would see maximum payouts increase from $250 a month to $275 a month. The increase would not apply to troops serving in hostile fire areas and combat zones, who are already eligible for up to $450 a month in extra pay. The measure also includes reauthorizations of dozens of other specialty pay and bonus which would be halted if the measure doesn’t become law by the end of December." Military Times 12/4/20
COVID Response Would Be Hampered: “defense officials would be required to maintain a 30-day supply of personal protective equipment “sufficient for every active and reserve service member” for the foreseeable future. [The NDAA]also includes extra protections for reservists and Guard members, tens of thousands of whom have deployed across the country in recent months to assist state pandemic response efforts." Military Times 12/4/20
“National Guard members who helped with the coronavirus response would no longer be covered by the military’s TRICARE health coverage, according to Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee. The defense bill would give Guard members who were placed on active duty to help with pandemic response some extra health coverage for another six months. Members of the Guard usually have health coverage through their civilian employers.” Bloomberg 12/7/20
Important Construction Will Not Get Underway: "The Pentagon would miss out on almost $6 billion for new construction projects to protect military bases, munitions, and nuclear weapons if President Donald Trump’s veto of the annual defense authorization bill succeeds. The Defense Department can’t spend money on new military construction projects until they are authorized in the defense policy bill. That would also include close to $400 million for special operations training facilities; $590 million for schools, daycare centers, and barracks; $200 million for base safety; and $900 million to overhaul shipyards, according to a list compiled by the House Armed Services Committee." Bloomberg 12/7/20
Important Support For Military Families Would Be Delayed: “Child care is a major focus of the bill, following lawmakers’ vows earlier in the year to put more emphasis on military family and military children needs. The legislation requires defense officials to provide child care to any service member or defense civilian employee who works on rotating shifts at a military installation. Families with two or more children at military day care facilities would also be guaranteed discounts in their current bills. Lawmakers also are requiring defense officials to better track and respond to incidents of child abuse involving dependents of service members, after complaints from advocates about a lack of sufficient oversight to the problem in the ranks.” Military Times 12/4/20
Military Families’ Struggles With Housing Will Continue: “Building on military housing reforms included in last year’s defense authorization bill, the legislation requires better response from private-sector landlords to tenant complaints and requires assistance for families who have been displaced because of privatized military housing issues.” Military Times 12/4/20