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FY2009 Defense Authorization Bill Advances in Senate

On April 30, the Senate Armed Services Committee approved, by unanimous consent, the FY2009 Defense Authorization bill (as-yet-unnumbered).

According to the committee’s summary, the bill, sponsored by Chair Carl Levin (D-MI), would authorize $612.5 billion for national defense in FY2009. This amount includes $542.5 billion for the Departments of Defense and Energy and $70 billion for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The measure would authorize a 3.9 percent pay increase for military personnel, .5 percent more than president’s FY2009 budget request. The bill also would authorize $125 billion for military personnel, including pay, allowances, bonuses, death benefits, and “permanent change of station moves.”

The summary states that the bill would authorize $26.1 billion for the Defense Health Program and reject the administration’s proposal to increase TRICARE fees for military retirees and their dependents. In addition, the measure would authorize “additional health care studies and demonstrations, including projects which provide incentives for health promotion, rewards to high quality health care providers, improved medical and dental readiness of the reserves, and provision of a stipend for family members of mobilized reservists to maintain their private health care insurance.”

The bill also would require the secretary of Defense to review Department of Defense and military service policies “on deferment of deployment of female servicemembers following the birth of a child,” and authorize up to 21 days of paternity leave under regulations prescribed by the secretary of Defense.

The six Senate Armed Services subcommittees approved their portions of the defense authorization bill earlier this week.

The full Senate is expected to consider the bill by the end of the month.

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