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EANGUS Legislative Update; 20 October 2015

HR 1735, FY2016 NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT (NDAA)

Speaker of the House, John Boehner plans to send the FY16 NDAA down Pennsylvania Ave to the President’s desk tomorrow, Wednesday, October 21. All summer and fall, President Obama has threatened to veto the NDAA largely because it surpasses the Budget Control Act (BCA) caps and keeps Guantanamo Bay open. If the NDAA is delivered on time, the House of Representatives will have to remain open for business for ten consecutive days – excluding Sundays – to stave off a pocket veto. It is likely that a handful of Congressmen will remain in DC so the House can recess, without having to adjourn, in turn forcing the President to veto the bill. Political insiders believe President will veto the NDAA. While the NDAA has passed for 53 consecutive years, this would not be the first time a President has vetoed an NDAA before a final bill was resolved that same year. This would be the fifth time President Obama has used his veto authority during his time in office. In a letter to the Office of Management and Budget, Secretary of Defense, Ash Carter expressed his concerns over the legislation and suggested President Obama veto the bill. After a veto, the EANGUS National Office staff plan to advocate for increased National Guard end strength, for the Apaches already delivered to the Army to be counted toward the total deliverable Apaches, and for honorary veteran status for 20-year Guardsmen.

SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE RACE

As of October 20, all eyes are on House Ways and Means Committee Chair – and former Vice Presidential nominee – Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI). Known as a moderate Republican, Representative Ryan will undoubtedly face many of the same challenges as outgoing Speaker John Boehner. As many as 40 House Freedom Caucus members desire a more conservative Speaker but some of those caucus members also believe that the responsibilities of the Speaker position have less to do with the Speaker’s personal views and more to do with how the Speaker manages the House floor process, including which amendments are considered during bill debate. If Representative Ryan declines consideration, Representatives Chaffetz (R-UT), Issa (R-CA), McCaul (R-TX), and Conaway (R-TX) are seen as serious candidates. However, each have expressed their desire for Representative Ryan to seek the gavel and would not challenge him. The Speaker election is scheduled for Thursday, October 29.

DEBT LIMIT

The U.S. government will default on debts if the borrowing limit is not increased by Thursday, November 5 per the Treasury Secretary, Jack Lew. Congressional Republicans and Democrats are negotiating a deal to increase the debt limit and decrease spending. Defense hawks on Capitol Hill do not want to see decreases to defense spending, non-defense discretionary spending decreases, and entitlement reforms. Most Democrats prefer increased taxes to pay for defense and non-defense spending, and to leave entitlements untouched. Speaker Boehner is working to resolve a deal before his departure at the end of the month so the new Speaker of the House can start with a clean slate.

HEALTHCARE REFORM SURVEY

The Senate and House Armed Services Committees will consider reforms to the military healthcare system. While Congress is still considering the FY16 NDAA, there are no specific details about what could be considered in the FY17 NDAA. EANGUS, in conjunction with the Reserve Officers Association and NGAUS, crafted a survey to ensure the voices of the Reserve Component are heard. Please follow this link to the EANGUS homepage and fill out the TRICARE Reserve: Access and Quality of Healthcare survey.

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