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What’s Next? House and Senate lawmakers have begun work to re- solve hundreds of differences between their bills. The time- line for completion could be anywhere from the end of July to the end of October — or later.


ing-age military retirees and their families. And, unlike the House version, the Sen- ate bill also includes proposed changes to housing allowances. For new entrants after Jan. 1, 2018, and for currently serving families making military-directed moves after that date, the basic allowance for housing (BAH) would be calculated using the lesser of the servicemember’s actual housing cost or the BAH rate. The bill also proposes dividing the normal BAH rate by the number of BAH-eligible occupants, which could greatly affect thousands of members and families. (See “Senate Looks to Curtail BAH Rate,” page 32.) The Senate bill also would make chang- es to active duty promotions and tenure. Promotion boards would be able to iden- tify up to 20 percent of selectees as “top performers,” to go to the top of promotion lists. Additionally, the service secretaries would be able to designate specialties to allow officers to serve up to 40 years. See pages 30-31 for a quick-reference summary of Senate versus House propos- als on a variety of key issues.


Defense Bill T 28 MILITARY OFFICER AUGUST 2016


Veto Threat The White House has numerous objections to bill provisions.


he White House issued a statement citing a litany of objections to the Senate-passed defense bill, including provisions on pay and benefits, such as: TRICARE For Life fees. In calling for changes to TRICARE, the statement said, “The administration is disappointed that the legislation does not include a modest enrollment fee for TRICARE For Life.” In its budget request earlier in the year, the administration wanted to impose a fee


of up to 2 percent of retired pay for TRI- CARE For Life beneficiaries. Housing allowances. The adminis-


tration also objected to controversial changes to the BAH system, saying the changes would “return the allowance to its distorted state from the mid-1990s and reinstitute a burdensome and inefficient administrative-authorization process.” The administration rightly noted changes to the structure of BAH “would dispro- portionately affect female servicemem- bers and those military families in which both military members have chosen to serve their country.” Military Health System reform. The


White House statement objected to plans in both the House and Senate bills that would place responsibility for military health care under the Defense Health Agency rather than leaving the services to manage their separate systems. Commissary privatization. The admin-


istration took issue with a proposal by the Senate Armed Services Committee to con- duct a test of privatizing commissaries at up to five locations. That provision since has been dropped from the bill. This is the eighth time the administra- tion has threatened to veto the annual defense bill. However, President Barack Obama has followed through on the threat only once.


House Defense T


Bill Changes The House adopts several key amendments in its final bill.


he full House of Representa- tives passed its version of the annual Defense Authorization Bill


(H.R. 4909) May 18 by a vote of 277-147, au- thorizing $602


[CONTINUES ON PAGE 32]


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