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House Panel Approves Defense Authorization Bill

On May 14, the House Armed Services Committee passed, 61-0, the FY2009 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 5658). The House Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee approved its portion of the bill on May 7 (see The Source, 5/9/08); the Senate Armed Services Committee approved its bill (S. 3001) on April 30 (see The Source, 5/2/08).

According to the committee summary of H.R. 5658, the bill would:

  •  provide a 3.9 percent pay raise for military personnel;
  •  prohibit increased premiums, co-pays, and pharmacy user fees for TRICARE recipients;
  •  establish a demonstration project to “provide an allowance for individuals to seek preventive health services”;
  •  establish a program to help TRICARE beneficiaries quit smoking;
  •  provide $15 million to expand family support programs;
  •  provide education, training opportunities, and career development programs for military spouses;
  •  authorize the Department of Defense to pay a portion of a second family separation allowance. Currently, only one allowance is paid per family, even when both parents have been deployed;
  •  authorize $3.2 billion to support and expand family housing units;
  •  provide $50 million to help local education agencies (LEAs) support military children. An additional $15 million would be provided to LEAs heavily impacted by base closures;
  •  establish a Career Intermission pilot program;
  •  create a centralized database for the “collection and maintenance of information regarding sexual assaults involving a member of the armed forces”; and
  •  establish a commission to examine diversity within the senior military leadership and recommend ways to improve diversity within these ranks.The House is expected to consider H.R. 5658 next week.
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