National Guard August 2012 : Page 10

WASHINGTON UPDATE The latest Capitol Hill news from the NGAUS legislative staff An Illogical Proposal By Pete Duffy T Rep. Steven Palazzo R-Miss. Sen. Harry Reid D-Nev. HE RECENT PROPOSAL in the 11th Quadrennial Review of Military Com-pensation to cut drill pay in half has justly drawn protest from our members. The report’s authors say it would put drill pay in line with an active-duty mem-ber’s daily pay. One NGAUS member from Oregon has crunched numbers to point out that after factoring the down weekends, annual leave, holidays and off-duty time, an E-4 on active-duty in the United States earns $44,897.67 for working just 229 days a year. This calculates to $196.06 per day com-pared to the $151.10 an E-4 in the Oregon Guard earns per day for drill weekend. I’d like someone to explain the report’s logic. And so, apparently, would several in Congress ( story, page 20 ). The proposal was out less than a month June 20 when a bipartisan group of the 28 House members led by Rep. Steven Palazzo, R-Miss., sent a letter to senior Pentagon officials opposing the scheme. “To consider a proposal of this nature is not only unreasonable, it is irresponsible,” they wrote. Delayed Authorization? Although the Senate Armed Services Com-mittee approved its version of the fiscal 2013 Defense Authorization Act in June, it appears that it will not go to the Sen-ate floor until well after the August recess. And maybe not until after the November election. When the bill goes to the floor, it can be a fertile time for amendments as happened last year when the historic empowerment amend-ment to the Senate NDAA matched the House language for putting the chief of the National Guard Bureau on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Expect senators to offer a long list of amendments when the bill comes to the floor. However, in the last two election years of 2008 and 2010, Sen. Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, prohibited any floor amendments. We cannot predict the same “no amend-ment” rule from Reid for 2012. However, the substantial differences between the House and Senate versions of the NDAA already auger for a difficult joint conference session to resolve the differences. Further amendments to the Senate NDAA could expand those differences. With congressional action at the end of the year anticipated on sequestration, the Bush-era tax cuts and the debt ceiling, a conten-tious NDAA will further congest an already loaded calendar. Vet Status for Guard Retirees? The Senate stills struggles for puzzling rea-sons to approve cost-neutral legislation that would grant veteran status without benefits to Guardsmen and Reservists who serve 20 years, but lack the appropriate Title 10 time to fit the legal federal definition of a veteran. Those affected were willing to deploy, but, through no fault of their own, were never called during their careers. The veteran recognition prohibition also extends to some currently serving members who participated in missions such as Op-eration Noble Eagle, the Hurricane Katrina recovery and Operation Jump Start. Many domestic missions come with risk, as evidenced by the fatalities of four North Carolina Air Guardsmen last month while fighting forest fires in South Dakota. The absurdity here is apparent when one considers that an active-component soldier who serves an entire enlistment on a stateside assignment earns full veteran recognition. Those opposed to the legislation fear an onslaught of new recipients for future benefits. They seem to forget that they have the final say on whether such benefits are approved. Keep a closer tab on legislation by signing up for the Washington Report, a weekly e-newsletter, at www. ngaus.org. And for daily reports, click on the Blogspot icon at www.ngaus.org. The author can be reached at 202-454-5307 or pete.duffy@ngaus.org. 10 | Na tional Guard

Washington Update

Pete Duffy

An Illogical Proposal<br /> <br /> THE RECENT PROPOSAL in the 11th Quadrennial Review of Military Compensation to cut drill pay in half has justly drawn protest from our members.<br /> <br /> The report’s authors say it would put drill pay in line with an active-duty member’s daily pay.<br /> <br /> One NGAUS member from Oregon has crunched numbers to point out that after factoring the down weekends, annual leave, holidays and off-duty time, an E-4 on activeduty in the United States earns $44,897.67 for working just 229 days a year.<br /> <br /> This calculates to $196.06 per day compared to the $151.10 an E-4 in the Oregon Guard earns per day for drill weekend.<br /> <br /> I’d like someone to explain the report’s logic.<br /> <br /> And so, apparently, would several in Congress (story, page 20). The proposal was out less than a month June 20 when a bipartisan group of the 28 House members led by Rep. Steven Palazzo, R-Miss., sent a letter to senior Pentagon officials opposing the scheme.<br /> <br /> “To consider a proposal of this nature is not only unreasonable, it is irresponsible,” they wrote.<br /> <br /> Delayed Authorization?<br /> <br /> Although the Senate Armed Services Committee approved its version of the fiscal 2013 Defense Authorization Act in June, it appears that it will not go to the Senate floor until well after the August recess. And maybe not until after the November election.<br /> <br /> When the bill goes to the floor, it can be a fertile time for amendments as happened last year when the historic empowerment amendment to the Senate NDAA matched the House language for putting the chief of the National Guard Bureau on the Joint Chiefs of Staff.<br /> <br /> Expect senators to offer a long list of amendments when the bill comes to the floor. However, in the last two election years of 2008 and 2010, Sen. Harry Reid The Senate majority leader, prohibited any floor amendments.<br /> <br /> We cannot predict the same “no amendment” rule from Reid for 2012. However, the substantial differences between the House and Senate versions of the NDAA already auger for a difficult joint conference session to resolve the differences.<br /> <br /> Further amendments to the Senate NDAA could expand those differences. With congressional action at the end of the year anticipated on sequestration, the Bushera tax cuts and the debt ceiling, a contentious NDAA will further congest an already loaded calendar.<br /> <br /> Vet Status for Guard Retirees?<br /> <br /> The Senate stills struggles for puzzling reasons to approve cost-neutral legislation that would grant veteran status without benefits to Guardsmen and Reservists who serve 20 years, but lack the appropriate Title 10 time to fit the legal federal definition of a veteran.<br /> <br /> Those affected were willing to deploy, but, through no fault of their own, were never called during their careers.<br /> <br /> The veteran recognition prohibition also extends to some currently serving members who participated in missions such as Operation Noble Eagle, the Hurricane Katrina recovery and Operation Jump Start.<br /> <br /> Many domestic missions come with risk, as evidenced by the fatalities of four North Carolina Air Guardsmen last month while fighting forest fires in South Dakota.<br /> <br /> The absurdity here is apparent when one considers that an active-component soldier who serves an entire enlistment on a stateside assignment earns full veteran recognition.<br /> <br /> Those opposed to the legislation fear an onslaught of new recipients for future benefits. They seem to forget that they have the final say on whether such benefits are approved.<br /> <br /> The author can be reached at 202-454-5307 or pete.duffy@ngaus.org.<br /> <br /> New Stolen Valor Legislation Should Pass Judicial Scrutiny <br /> <br /> The Supreme Court ruling that the Stolen Valor Act violated a person’s freedom of speech has prompted two lawmakers to renew a push for a version of the law that might pass judicial scrutiny.<br /> <br /> Sen. Scott P. Brown, R-Mass., and Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., are asking their colleagues to pass a law that makes it illegal for someone to benefit or profit from lying about their military service.<br /> <br /> The Supreme Court ruled June 28 on a version of the law that simply made it illegal to tell the lie.<br /> <br /> “It is wrong and cowardly for people to make fraudulent statements in order to receive distinctions that they have not earned,” Brown said at a press conference. “We need to ensure that no one can benefit from making false claims and steal the true valor of the courageous servicemen and women who selflessly defended our freedom.” <br /> <br /> He and Heck are seeking support for the Stolen Valor Act of 2011, which they both introduced last year in anticipation of the Supreme Court’s ruling.<br /> <br /> NGAUS Support Bill to Make Transition Advisors Permanent <br /> <br /> NGAUS is supporting legislation introduced by Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., that would make permanent the transition assistant advisors who help National Guardsmen connect with services and benefits to which they are entitled.<br /> <br /> The Transition Assistance Advisors Act of 2012, or S. 3354, would authorize the 62 transition assistant advisors who have reached more than 194,000 veterans and family members since the pilot program was launched two years ago. At least one TAA works in each state and territory.<br /> <br /> In a release announcing his legislation last month, Casey said, “After courageously serving our country, our veterans deserve the best possible care and direct access to services that ease their transition back to civilian life. My legislation will make it easier for veterans to find jobs, receive medical care and manage their finances.”<br /> <br /> Pete Duffy, the acting NGAUS legislative director, said the TAAs are crucial for Guardsmen who return from deployments and are overwhelmed by the adjustment to civilian life while trying to access their benefits.<br /> <br /> Committee OK’s Bill to Prevent Human Trafficking on U.S. Bases <br /> <br /> Many of the people who work on U.S. military bases in Afghanistan, just as in Iraq during that war, are being illegally trafficked and exploited by contractors being paid with American tax dollars.<br /> <br /> The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee preliminarily approved recent legislation introduced by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., that would require contractors to certify they have plans and procedures that would prevent trafficking.<br /> <br /> A companion bill to the End Trafficking in Government Contracting legislation is making its way through the House.<br /> <br /> At one time, an estimated 70,000 people from places like Bangladesh, Fiji and the Philippines were working on U.S. bases in the two countries. Many of them had been lured to the jobs with promises of high pay and safe work in other countries, only to find themselves working in war zones with little pay.<br /> <br /> Many of them, too, had their travel documents confiscated so they couldn’t leave or were told the pay would come only at the end of the contract.<br /> <br /> Meanwhile, they worked in dining facilities, laundered the clothes of military members, cut hair and other tasks under the noses of American troops fighting to bring freedom to Iraqis and Afghans.<br /> <br /> When introducing the bill in March, Blumenthal said, “Modern-day slavery by government contractors—unknowingly funded by American taxpayers—is unconscionable and intolerable.” <br /> <br /> Current law prohibiting human trafficking, he said, is “insufficient and ineffective.”

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