ALABAMA COUNCIL OF
MILITARY OFFICERS ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA
LEGISLATIVE & PERSONAL AFFAIRS
Compiled by LTC Jim Wallace, USAR (ret)
Vice President and Legislative Chairman
October 28, 2013
1. COST OF LIVING ADJUSTMENT (COLA) - The Cost of Living Adjustment for the year 2013 effective for the year 2014 will be 1.5%. Government retired pay promises must be kept, including annual cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) to prevent erosion of retiree's purchasing power by inflation. This increase will take effect with the checks issued on December 30, 2013 for the month of January 2014.
2. CONTINUING APPROPRIATIONS AND DEBT LIMIT SUSPENSION -PASSAGE- Vote Passed in Senate (81-18, 1 not voting)
Senators approved a continuing appropriations on October 16, 2013, bringing and end to the 16 day partial government shutdown that began with the end of the fiscal year. The measure also extended the Treasury's ability to borrow to pay the nation's debt obligations, avoiding a potentially-catastrophic default that loomed days later. To avoid the need to pass another continuing appropriations resolution in the absence of a new federal budget, the deal also required the House and Senate to form a budget conference committee. The body will have to iron out an agreement for the rest of fiscal year 2014 by December 13, 2013, because the resolution funds the government through January 15, 2014 at 2013 spending levels. Republicans gained one small concession in the final package, as the bill also requires the Department of Health and Human Services to ensure it is verifying the income of individuals purchasing subsidized health insurance on its market place exchanges established by the Affordable Care Act. Our Senator Sessions and Shelby voted NO to the bill. A total of only 18 Senators voted NO. The resolution did not postpone implementation of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, the major target of House conservative Republicans. With the resolution passed it extended the Treasury's borrowing authority through February 7, 2014.
3. CHANGE FOR SURVIVOR BENEFIT PLAN ANNUITANTS- Effective August 1, 2013, most Survivor Benefit Plan Annuitants over the age of 55 are no longer required to complete and submit an annual Certificate of Eligibility to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service. Annuitants should no longer expect to receive the annual COE once they reach age 55. Their eligibility to receive annuity payments will continue without submitting the COE.
4. BUDGET UNCERTAINTY PLAGUES DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE-The Army Chief of Staff, General Ray Odierno, stated the lack of certainty has frustrated DoD leadership. He stated that over the last two years he's experienced nothing but budget uncertainty. No budgets, continuing
resolutions, no planning, wasteful programs because we can't predict what budgets we're going to have as we move forward. To further his worries, he stated at this time he has only 1 brigade in combat readiness of the 21 brigades. The worst he has ever experienced for our Army because of lack of funding.
5. TROOP PAY CAP- On August 30, 2013, President Obama sent a letter to Congress stating he plans to use his authority under law to cap the active duty military pay raise at 1 percent. The 2004 National Defense Authorization Act tied future military pay raises to growth in private-sector pay, as measured by the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Employment Cost Index (ECI). Accordingly, the FY 2014 active duty pay raise would be 1.8 percent. Over the past 12 years, Congress has worked hard to eliminate a 13.5percent pay gap caused by repeatedly capping military raises below private-sector pay growth in the 1980s and 1990s. The Republican controlled House rejected the administration's pay cap of 1 percent while the Democratic controlled Senate supported the cap of 1 percent. It appears that we need to reinstall the military draft for all Democrats, as our troops should not be penalized for the wasteful spending of the current administration.
6. AFFORDABLE CARE ACT- Our President has ready authorized the depletion of 80 billion dollars from the Medicare budget for the new Affordable Care Act. Will this reduction of funds slow the medical expense payments for our retired service members and wives that are over 65 years of age? Maybe not, but the difference will truly affect TRICARE FOR LIFE as more funds will be needed to cover the expenses. With this deduction of Medicare funding of a total of 500 billion as indicated in the administration's budget for FY-2014, we may see a higher deductibles for Medicare and TFL, which is exactly what our President wanted in FY- 2013 but was turned down by the House and Senate.
7. RETIREMENT STUDY BEGINS- In the FY-2013 Defense Authorization
Act, Congress established the Military Compensation and Retirement
Modernization Commission to overhaul the current military pay and
benefits system. In the President's letter to Congress, he said the
commission would not alter the current retirement system for those already
serving, retired, or in the process of retiring. Along with a review of military
compensation, the President asked that the commission look at the inter-
relationship of the military's current promotion system. The President said
the commission must review the full breadth of the systems, including
health care, military family support, and any federal programs that could
influence the decision of current or future service members to stay in uniform or leave the service. The commission's report is due May 1, 2014.
8. NOVEMBER COMMEMORATIONS- MARK YOUR CALENDARS-
a. The Marine Corps will celebrate its founding on November 10, 2013.
b. Veterans Day will be celebrated on November 11, 2013.
c. On November 19, 2013 will mark 150 years since President Abraham
Lincoln delivered his now famous address at Gettysburg, PA.
d. On November 22, 2013 will mark 50 years since President John F.
Kennedy was lost to assassin's bullets.
e. On November 28, 2013 we celebrate Thanksgiving Day and take time to be
thankful for our families, country, and our freedom.
f. On November 29, 2013 men across this great nation stay home with their
children and grand children so the wives can go to the annual
CHRISTMAS shopping frenzy.
g. On November 30, 2013 the University of Alabama and Auburn University
Football Teams battle between the goal posts for state bragging rights.
QUOTE OF THE MONTH-
"I can see how it might be possible for a man to look down upon Earth and be an atheist, but I cannot conceive how he could look up into the Heavens and say there is no GOD. "
President Abraham Lincoln
LTC Jim Wallace, USAR(Ret)
Vice President and Legislative Chairman,
Alabama Council of Chapters of MOAA
Material compiled for this report is subject to copyright 2011 and 2012, Military Officers Association (MOAA), Military.com, RAO, DAV, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, VFW, and The Office of Senator Sessions, all rights are reserved. Except for MOAA affiliated organizations, it may not be used without written permission.