Legislative Dispatch: NDAA Day 2
Posted by Tom Tarantino on November 29
Unless you’ve been glued to CSPAN-2 for the last day or so, you might not know that the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is moving forward at a breakneck pace. Yesterday, the Senate introduced over 200 amendments to the bill. All of them will be voted on in the next two days.
Although off to a slow start, yesterday was a good day for veterans and service members. Of the three amendments that passed yesterday, one was an amendment offered by Senator Murray that will improve mental health care and suicide prevention in the military and VA. If this passes through the rest of the process, it will create a comprehensive DoD-wide suicide prevention program, expand mental health counseling in the DoD and VA and improve access and training for mental health care providers.
IAVA is directly asking each Senator to vote for the following amendments:
- Senator Murray's Mental Health Amendment that passed yesterday
- An amendment by Senator Webb that would protect the future of the GI Bill by establishing better accountability for all schools accepting GI Bill funds.
- An amendment by Senator Johanns and Senator Pryor that would help vets get jobs by promoting the translation of military certifications in to their civilian counterparts.
- An amendment by Senator Brown that would protect veterans jobs and financial security by strengthening USERRA and the SCRA.
In addition to the above amendments, IAVA is also supporting provisions and amendments that improve care and rights for victims of MST, improve mental health access in the Guard and Reserves and prohibits schools from recruiting on military bases. We will keep you posted as these all shake out over the next few days.
This is the first step in a process that normally takes three weeks. This year, it should all be over by next Tuesday. Here is an overview of how the NDAA is working this year:
First, the House passed their version of the NDAA back in spring. While the Senate usually does it in the summer, this year they waited until the lame duck session, even though the full bill came out of committee over the summer. Over the next two days, they will vote on over 200 amendments to the bill. And then, once the amendments have been adopted or rejected, they will vote on the amended bill. This will likely happen late Friday or Saturday. After that, once the Senate passes their bill there will be two versions of the NDAA - one in the House and one in the Senate. Both sides will then negotiate which parts of which bill they both agree on - which will happen behind closed doors. A compromise bill will then emerge - and this compromise bill will be voted on again in both the House and Senate with no changes. If it passes both chambers, it the heads to the President for his signature. This is all expected to be done by early next week.
Right now our DC staff is sorting through the amendments to identify the best ideas and pushing the Senate to pass our priorities. As events happen, we will keep you updated. Stay tuned to @IAVA for the latest breaking developments.
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