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Friday, May 25, 2007

NGAUS Legit: 25 May 2007

What’s Happening In Congress?.

House Removes Deadlines from War Funding Bill.
The House Thursday voted on a new war funding bill that included benchmarks for Iraq’s government but contained no timeline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the embattled region. In a reversal of their previous position, House Democrats conceded on the issue of a deadline for troop withdrawal in an effort to pass the legislation by Memorial Day. The new legislation includes additional military funding which was conspicuously absent from the version that passed last Thursday. That bill served only as a “placeholder” and asserted the House’s intention to support the troops.

There were several additions to the bill, including a measure that raised the national minimum wage and $22.2 billion in funding that was not requested by the White House. The bill’s passage in the House cleared its way for approval by the Senate on Thursday night.

Senate Begins Markup of Defense Authorization Bill.
In committee hearings this week, the Senate began its deliberations on the FY2008 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The subcommittees on Airland, Personnel, Emerging Threats and Capabilities, and Strategic Forces approved their respective portions of the NDAA.

In a positive move for the Air Force, Senate authorizers on the Airland subcommittee voted to shift all funding for the Joint Cargo Aircraft (JCA) program to that department’s budget line. In a move that differs greatly from the House version of the bill, the committee did not include any restrictions on the program.

The Senate authorizers also differed from their House counterparts and opted not to fund the purchase of any additional C17s. The House had authorized $2.4 billion to buy 10 planes that were not a part of the Air Force’s request.

House Passes Bills to Improve Veterans’ Health Care and Benefits.
On Wednesday, the House passed a number of bills that will expand health care and benefits for veterans. Designed to coincide with the upcoming Memorial Day holiday, the bills easily met the two-thirds majority required under the suspension of the rules. H.R. 612 (highlighted in last week’s LEGIT) extends the term of free health care for returning veterans from two to five years; H.R. 2199 authorizes research and funding for traumatic brain injuries; H.R. 1470 allows for improved chiropractic care; H.R. 67 authorizes a new grant program for veterans’ outreach services; H.R. 1660 authorizes a national veterans’ cemetery in Colorado; and H.R. 2239 expands vocational rehabilitation benefits to disabled servicemembers for a select group of personnel.

What’s Happening at NGAUS?

Legislative Alerts are New and Improved.
We’ve made it easier than ever. A link to our “Write to Congress” feature is now contained in the text of legislative alerts posted on the NGAUS website. This new feature alleviates the need to back out of the alerts and move to a separate page in order to send messages to Congress. The addition of the Capwiz link within the alerts will enhance ease of use and should lead to a substantial increase in the number of letters sent to Members of Congress.

One Week Remains for State Resolutions
The resolutions deadline of June 1 is just 5 business days away and we have only received input from 16 states. Please be sure to send your finalized, approved resolutions to Bernie Phelps, Senior Legislative Analyst at B. Phelps as soon as possible. Any resolutions received after the June 1 deadline will be treated as emergency resolutions.

What Can You Do?

Capwiz Update:
16,331 messages have been sent this year.
2135 messages were sent this week.
3375 messages on Guard Empowerment.
4193 messages were sent on TRICARE fee increases.
7296 messages were sent on retirement.
752 messages were sent on JCA

Top 5 States:
1. Georgia – 2118 messages
2. Tennessee – 2001 messages
3. Mississippi – 1096 messages
4. Ohio – 656 messages
5. Indiana 540 messages

Our Goal for 2007: 54,000 messages,
Only 37,669 messages to go!

Rich Green, Director
Pete Duffy, Deputy Director
Chris DeBatt, Army Programs
Emily Breitbach, Air Programs
Bernie Phelps, Senior Legislative Analyst
Gareth Vaughan, Legislative Analyst

PS: These are emails that I receive. I do not write them myself. The Notes are broken up into different sections over at DoD Daily News. Have a wonderful Memorial Day, thank you for your service, welcome to those of you whom have made it home and God bless you.


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