Key lawmakers and the White House agreed on top-line numbers for spending bills before Congress went on its summer recess. Now that they are back for three weeks before the start of the new fiscal year there is much legislative work to get done before the Oct. 1, 2019 deadline. The House has passed 10 of the 12 appropriations bills, but some do not conform to the budget agreement. The Senate has not passed any, so a short-term Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep government open after Oct. 1, 2019 is all but certain. The House is expected to pass a CR next week that flat lines spending at FY2019 levels that will start on October 1 and end on Nov. 21, 2019. This will give legislators time to complete work on appropriations.
Lawmakers will also be trying to reach an agreement on the competing National Defense Authorization Acts (H.R.2500 and S.1790) passed by their chamber of origin earlier. In addition, they need to resolve differences in total spending - $733 billion in the House vs. $750 billion in the Senate. There are a number of other disagreements between the two bills; among them are three important provisions for FRA members. A conference committee will be appointed to resolve the differences between the two bills. The House bill has several FRA supported provisions that are not in the Senate bill. Members are urged to ask their Senators to support House provisions in the final bill that include:
- Repealing the SBP/DIC Offset known as the Widow's Tax;
- Delaying proposed drastic cuts to military medical staff and require a study on the impact; and
- Allowing military service members to sue the DoD for instances of medical malpractice unrelated to combat.
The conference committee bill will be submitted to the House and Senate for approval. If approved by both chambers the bill will go to the President to be signed into law or be vetoed. Members are urged to use the ACTION CENTER and ask their Senators to accept the above referenced provisions in the final NDAA bill. The issues are listed in "Ask Senators to Support House Provisions in Final NDAA" on the Action Center website.