Senate to Consider Defense Spending
Appropriations (By: Mike Barron)
President Donald Trump signed the
FY 2019 John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law
Monday, Aug. 13, in a ceremony at Fort Drum, N.Y. Attention regarding defense
policy and spending now turns to the completion of the defense appropriations
legislation, which will fund the policy directives and authorizations included
in the FY 2019 NDAA.
The two defense bills directly
complement each other in the congressional budget and spending process, as the
FY 2019 NDAA must be funded through the appropriations process under a separate
appropriations bill. That part of the process is still ongoing.
As we saw this year with the
earliest signing of the NDAA in decades, the defense appropriations process
also is moving forward at a much more rapid pace than normal.
Congressional leadership has stated they aim to have the final legislation
approved and signed into law by the president before the Oct. 1 start of the
new fiscal year.
State of play
Members of the House, having
finished their defense legislative work, are on August recess until Labor Day.
The House defense appropriations legislation H.R. 6157, sponsored by Rep. Kay
Granger (R-Texas), chair of the House Appropriations Committee-Defense (HAC-D),
was debated and then passed by the full House Thursday, June 28, by a vote of
359-49. The House bill approved $674.6 billion in total discretionary defense
The Senate, after a short recess,
returned to session this past week to continue work on their version of the
defense appropriations legislation, sponsored by Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.),
chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Shelby also serves as the chair
of the Senate Defense Appropriations Committee.
The legislation, similar to other
Senate appropriations bills this year, has been packaged into a combined
“minibus” $856.9 billion spending package (H.R. 6157), which now includes
labor, health and human services, and education and related agencies (S. 3158)
as well as defense (S. 3159) - the two largest annual appropriations bills. The
defense portion of Senate bill accounts for $674.9 billion.
Introducing the legislation on the
Senate floor this past week, Shelby stated, “The package before the Senate
makes essential investments to accelerate the rebuilding of America's military
and provides our men and women in uniform with the largest pay increase they
have seen in nearly a decade.”
He also said, “The fiscal year 2018
defense appropriations bill enacted earlier this year contained the largest
increase in military spending in 15 years. … The bill now before the Senate
provides an additional $16 billion above the fiscal year 2018 level. … This
funding sustains U.S. force structure and improves military readiness.”
This week, the Senate will continue
to consider amendments to the appropriations legislation introduced by other
members of the Senate. Once this is complete, Senate leadership will bring the
bill up for a final vote.
Once passed, the Senate bill will
be reconciled with the House version of the appropriations legislation in
conference, before heading to the president for his signature.
Look out for future updates as
Congress moves to close out final action on the FY 2019 defense appropriations
legislation before the start of the new fiscal year.
The August recess is an excellent
opportunity for you to engage with your elected representatives, who are back
in their home states holding town hall meetings and campaigning for the
upcoming 2018 midterm elections. Please thank them for their support of the FY
2019 NDAA and ask them for their continued support for the full funding of the
FY 2019 NDAA in the final FY 2019 defense appropriations bill.
visit MOAA's August recess page, which contains information
on the FY 2019 NDAA and other important issues.
Before Making a Donation (By: MOAA Staff)
When you decide to support a charity
purportedly benefitting active duty military, veterans and their families, you
want to ensure your gift will actually support that cause. “Just because a
charity has a legitimate-sounding name or uses pictures of people in uniform,
it actually may or may not support the cause it advertises,” says Col.
Mike Turner, USAF (Ret.), MOAA's vice president of development. “Doing research
ahead of time will ensure your donation goes where you intend it to.”
Turner offers these six tips to
consider before making a donation to a charity:
1. Check GuideStar, a nonprofit organization that lists
financial information reported by charities, and specifically check its rating,
a measure of how transparent the organization is with its governance.
“They provide all the information you need to assess the legitimacy of a
nonprofit,” Turner says. “Make sure you type in the exact name of the
organization or you may have to scroll through several similar entries. Also,
be careful. Many organizations, like MOAA, have hundreds of independent
chapters, so make sure you get the parent organization.”
The MOAA Scholarship Fund has a
Platinum Guidestar rating, and the MOAA foundation has a Gold rating. Help
military and veteran families by donating to your favorite MOAA Charity today
2. Check Charity Navigator, which rates nonprofit
organizations. Unlike GuideStar, Charity Navigator rates only nonprofits with
annual revenues greater than $1 million.
3. Scan IRS Form 990. Turner checks for the length of the
company's existence; how the nonprofit has performed year-over-year; program
expenses, management expenses and fundraising expenses; and number of board
4. Check the charity's website.
Turner says he looks for clearly defined programs and specific activities the
nonprofit is engaged in. “I've been to nonprofit websites with a very
professional look, but which actually reveal a nonprofit with very few
programs,” he says. “This isn't necessarily a show-stopper, but again, it's a
warning flag causing me to look deeper.”
5. Search complaints. One of the
easiest ways to do that, Turner says, is to type the name of the charity and
the word “complaints” into Google. He also suggested going to Glassdoor.com for information about the charity's
track record. “Once again, complaints are not necessarily a problem,” Turner
says. “An organization with four complaints over the past 10 years is probably
fine; an organization with four complaints over the past year may not be.”
6. Network through LinkedIn.
Turner suggests typing the name of the nonprofit in LinkedIn and finding
connections with people who are familiar with the nonprofit's work. Then
contact them about the organization. “You'd be amazed what you can learn from
an insider's perspective,” Turner says.
Get a Glimpse Inside VA’s Major Overhaul (By:
Do you remember the VA MISSION Act- the massive, most comprehensive
health care reform bill passed out of Congress in over 25 years and signed into
law by President Donald Trump on June 6?
VA has quietly begun working on
implementing these major changes but recognizes it can't do so without
VA wants to know what questions
veterans have about the VA MISSION Act as VA moves forward in rolling out these
huge health system changes.
While MOAA and other veteran service
organizations (VSO) have started working with VA to implement the legislation,
veterans are central to making the transformation smooth and in helping the
department meet the very tight deadline mandated by Congress.
Passage of the VA MISSION Act
signaled Congress' readiness to implement major changes in VA's health care
system - seen by some congressional leaders as long overdue reform.
One of the most significant changes
veterans will see in the next few months is the elimination of the Veterans Choice Program, established in 2014, to
provide temporary relief and help VA rebuild internal capacity to reduce long
wait times for veterans seeking health care. A new, streamlined community care
program will replace Choice and consolidate multiple community care programs
currently managed by VA into a single program.
A few other major changes veterans
can expect to see are:
- the expansion of VA's comprehensive caregiver support
program, opening up the program to eligible pre-9/11 veterans;
- veterans and their doctors will be able to decide the
best option on where the veteran should get their care, whether inside VA
or in the community;
- more telehealth programs; and,
- walk-in health care services with local community
What would normally take three to
five years to implement such massive system changes, Congress gave VA one year
from the enactment of the MISSION Act to replace the Choice Program and two
years to implement the caregiver program expansion.
Last week, VA provided MOAA and
other VSOs a little peek under the tent as to the rough timelines the
department is working under to combine and implement the new community care
program and walk-in care services over the next year. Here's generally what we
- Phase 1, June - October 2018. Build the operating structure, access and eligibility
criteria, new veteran care contract agreements, and new competency
standards for community providers; and, draft regulations.
- Phase 2, November 2018 - February 2019. Complete and test the operating structure and
elements initiated in Phase 1; continue rollout of the new community care
provider network; begin educating and training VA staff; and, finalized
- Phase 3, March - June 2019. Transition and begin operation of the new
walk-in care and community care program; continue educating VA staff;
continue rollout of new community care provider network; begin using new
competency standards for community providers; publish regulations; and,
end the Choice Program.
So here's what MOAA needs from
you: We need you to send us your
questions about the VA MISSION Act that you want VA to answer and communicate
to veterans now and throughout the implementation of the system reforms.
To help get you started, here are a
couple questions MOAA has already provided to VA we think veterans will want to
- How can veterans expect VA to communicate with them as
progress is made in implementing the MISSION Act and how can veterans
provide feedback throughout the process?
- What does walk-in care mean and will I be charged for
getting this care outside of my VA medical center?
Now, what questions are on your
mind? Please send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will share your questions
with VA as well any communication and marketing materials as they become