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billion in defense spending for FY 2017. The House bill includes force increas- es for most services, protects currently serving and retired personnel from most TRICARE fee increases, extends the Special Survivor Indemnity Allowance for one year, and authorizes a 2.1-percent pay raise. Some key amendments adopted in the final bill include:  delete a provision requiring women to register for the draft, and require a study of selective service registration require- ments instead;  allow both servicemembers of a dual- military couple to split 36 days of parental leave according to family needs when they adopt a child;  restore TRICARE coverage for children with autism to the rates that existed be- fore DoD reduced them April 1; establish an electronic tour calculator Selected Reserve members can use to track aggregated early retirement credit earned over the course of multiple call-ups;  eliminate the two-year limit on con- tinued noncompetitive appointment of military spouses to civil service positions when they accompany their sponsor on service-directed moves; and  require a DoD report to Congress on survivor income losses due to deduction of VA survivor benefits from Survivor Benefit Plan annuities.


Senate Looks to M 32 MILITARY OFFICER AUGUST 2016


Curtail BAH Rate Changes would affect dual- military couples and roommates.


embers of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) said the current military hous-


ing allowance system is “bloated and ripe


for abuse” and proposed a significant al- lowance overhaul in its version of the FY 2017 Defense Authorization Bill (S. 2943). This took MOAA by surprise, as last year’s Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission — whose findings the SASC used to push changes to retirement and health care — found no is- sues with the basic allowance for housing (BAH) program. Under the Senate-passed proposal, members whose housing costs are less than their allowance would have the al- lowance reduced, beginning with the first relocation after Jan. 1, 2018. More significantly, the proposal also


would reduce the combined value of the housing allowances received by dual military couples and roommates. In effect, each member would receive the applicable housing allowance amount for his or her grade, divided by the number of occupants. Under federal law, BAH is a main com- ponent of Regular Military Compensation (RMC), which is earned by each indi- vidual servicemember. Congress worked diligently from the late 1990s through 2007 to strengthen the benefit and re- duce the out-of-pocket expenses — which had risen above 20 percent in the past — borne by servicemembers. In 2007, Con- gress achieved the goal of setting BAH at 100 percent of the median housing cost for each grade. Under the new SASC proposal, ser- vicemembers would receive only enough BAH to offset their actual housing costs and would have to provide proof of their rent and utilities costs. In effect, this would return to a system used decades ago, when a locality-spe- cific housing allowance first was intro- duced. After years of struggling with paperwork associated with actual hous- ing costs and the natural tendency of servicemembers to adjust their housing


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