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Legislative Process Brief presented to Navy Petty Officer First Class Leadership Seminar By Joe Barnes National Executive Director, FRA at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland 1 April 2009. What is FRA?.

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Legislative process brief presented to navy petty officer first class leadership seminar by

LegislativeProcess Briefpresented to

Navy Petty Officer First Class

Leadership Seminar

By

Joe Barnes

National Executive Director, FRA

at

Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland

1 April 2009


What is fra

What is FRA?

  • FRA is the largest and most experienced non-profit professional military association representing enlisted active duty, Reserve, retired and veterans of the U.S. Marine Corps, Navy, and Coast Guard

  • FRA is named after the Navy’s program for personnel transferring to the Fleet Reserve or Fleet Marine Corps Reserve after 20 or more years of service

  • FRA is a recognized leader in the community of military/veterans organizations

  • We listen to the needs of our members and provide avenues for their message to be heard on Capitol Hill

  • FRA’s legislative program focuses on pay, health care, benefits, family readiness and quality of life programs

  • We assist members in dealing with DoD, VA and other agencies

  • We work closely with Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard Senior Enlisted Leaders


What congress gives congress can take away

What Congress Gives,Congress Can Take Away

Retirement programs are a great example of how benefits can change, and why FRA stays vigilant.

There are three retirement programs –

  • Highest grade held (entered service prior to 1980)

  • High 3 - average of 3 highest pay grades (1980-1986)

  • Redux (1986 to present)

  • Thanks to FRA led initiatives, service members can now choose Redux and a $30,000 bonus or High 3

    Because there are no guarantees that benefits will not be changed, it is important to have advocates representing your needs and the needs and concerns of your family!


Heard on the hill

Heard on the Hill

“Congress has added politically popular pay raises and increased benefits for military personnel in a succession of defense authorization and appropriations bills, while stifling repeated efforts by the Bush administration to raise fees for the military’s Tricare health care system, which grants many service personnel and their families health coverage for life.”

CQ Today, Thursday, February 5, 2009

Re: House Budget Committee Testimony of February 4, 2009


Why personnel cost more increases in military pay and benefits since 1999

Why Personnel Cost More: Increases inMilitary Pay and Benefits Since 1999

  • 6 years of “Employment Cost Index” + ½ % pay raises (ending in 2006), ECI in FY2007, ECI + ½% in FY2008;

  • 4 rounds of “pay table reform,” the latest in 2007;

  • Increased housing allowances to eliminate differences between on-base and off-base housing costs;

  • “TRICARE for Life” for 65 and older military retirees;

  • “Concurrent receipt” of retired pay and disability benefits for retirees with a VA disability rating of 50% or greater;

  • Repeal of the 1986 “Redux” retirement program which gave lower pensions to those recruited after that time;

  • Repeal of the offset of Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) payments for receipt of Social Security after age 62

    Stephen Daggett, Congressional Research Service

    February 2009


The legislative process

The Legislative Process

  • Is very complex and heavily influenced by grassroots pressure

  • Involves ongoing communications (lobbying) by organizations representing various groups or businesses(Defense contractors are well represented by high paid lobbying firms)

  • Requires working with members and staff personnel in both the House and Senate

  • Enacted legislation impacts policy within DoD, and the Services


Declining military experience in congress

Declining Military Experiencein Congress


Influencing legislation involves

Influencing Legislation Involves

  • Evaluating needs/potential threats

  • Establishing goals/priorities

  • Developing plans of attack

  • Preparing fact sheets and point papers

  • Meeting legislators and staff to introduce bill(s)

  • Letters to Congress/Administration

  • Informing membership

  • Storming the Hill to build co-sponsors & support

  • Generating strong and continuing grassroots support

  • Testifying before key oversight committees


Top 2009 fra qol survey issues

Top 2009 FRA QOL Survey Issues

  • Access to quality health care (91% of Active Duty; 71% of Reservists)

  • Pay (Active Duty)

  • Housing allowance (Active Duty)

  • Education benefits/dependent schools (Active Duty)

  • Retirement benefits (Reservists)


Top 2009 priorities

Top 2009 Priorities

  • STOP TRICARE Fee Increases

  • DoD/VA Health Care Funding

  • Alternatives to Health Care Cost Shifting to Military Retirees

  • Higher than ECI Pay Increase (3.4% vice 2.9%)

  • Early Retirement for Reservists that Experience Numerous Mobilizations since 9/11/01

  • Ensure Adequate End Strength

  • Expand Concurrent Receipt

  • Spouse Protection Act (USFSPA) Reform

  • Family Readiness

  • Streamline military overseas voting process

  • Implementation of Post 9/11 GI Bill


What s hot on the hill

What's Hot on The Hill

  • Economic Stimulus initiatives

  • Cooperation not Confrontation?

  • Economic downturn/shrinking revenue base

  • Huge deficit

  • Size of 2010 Defense Budget

  • End strength levels

  • People vs. weapons costs

  • Health care cost shifting to retirees

  • Obligations to wounded and survivors

  • Recruiting/retention concerns

  • "Pay – Go" policy


Health care issues

Health Care Issues

  • DOD Plan to Shift Costs to Younger Retirees

  • Implement Federal Pricing for Prescription Drugs & Wellness programs

  • QRMC 2nd Vol. TRICARE Fees

  • CBO Report on Reducing Fed. Health Care Cost

  • Special Task Force on Future of Military Health Care (2007)

  • The Military Health System Senior Oversight Committee (MHS-SOC)Response to Task Force on Future of Military Health Care


Post 9 11 mgib

Post 9/11 MGIB

  • 4 years of full-time college after serving 36 months or more on active duty;

  • Elimination of the current $1,200 enrollment fee;

  • Payment equivalent to in-state tuition at a state university issued to school;

  • Transfer benefits to spouse after 6 years of service and re-enlisting for 4 more years; and children after 10 years of service;

  • Families can divide benefits up among dependents;

  • A monthly housing allowance of $1,000-$2,700 based on BAH rates;

  • $1,000 annually for books and up to $1,200 annually for tutoring;

  • Proportional eligibility of benefits for Reservists after 90 days of active duty;

  • Access provided up to 15 years after service;

  • The legislation will not take effect until August 2009;

  • DoD oversight on implementation policy

  • On-line applications for eligibility certificates

  • Information at www.gibill.va.gov


Major challenges fra faces

Major Challenges FRA Faces

  • Keeping pay, health care and benefits adequately funded

  • Fewer and fewer members of Congress have military experience, and so FRA works to educate them

  • Hill staff without military background, and so we put our members in touch with the Hill staff to give first-hand accounts

  • Lack of awareness about the power of grassroots support and the importance of belonging to an association that effectively represents your concerns


Questions

Questions?

(Additional Information at www.fra.org)


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