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NDAA passes the House Washington Update for July 15th, 2019

House of Representatives Passes National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)

The House passed its version of the annual defense bill on July 12, 2019, by a vote of 220-197, along party lines. The $733 billion defense spending bill is the largest in American history.

Provisions call for curbing presidential war powers, a 3.1 percent troop pay raise and repeals of the controversial Widow's Tax and Feres Doctrine.

The House and Senate will now try to craft a compromise bill from the two competing versions. 

Highlights of H.R. 2500 for service members and veterans include

  • Repeal of the "Widow's Tax" to allow Gold Star spouses access to both sets of survivor benefits for which they are eligible and prevents stripping them of thousands of dollars annually. 
  • Repeal of the Feres Doctrine, which blocks service members from suing the federal government for medical malpractice. 
  • A 3.1 percent military pay raise -- the largest since 2010.
  • Repeal of the Authorized Use of Military Force (AUMF) against Iran without Congressional authorization, limiting presidential war powers.
  • Repeal of the AUMF against Iraq, a 2002 authorization. 
  • Allowing transgender people to join the military.
  • Blocks military parades or exhibitions for political purposes.
  • Require DoD to study using two FBI databases to screen enlistees for ties to white nationalist groups.
  • Require DoD/VA to demonstrate implementation of the electronic health record system
  • Require DoD/VA to report to Congress on providing financial literacy education to separating troops and veterans.
  • Directs DoD to include the names of 74 crew members of the USS Frank E. Evans killed in 1969 on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. 
  • Require DoD/VA/Coast Guard to work together on how to collectively operate the new MISSION Act and TRICARE.  
  • Prevents VA from using a veteran's income deriving from a state-legalized marijuana industry as a factor when deciding VA home loans.
  • Expand infertility treatments to all troops.
  • Make all methods of contraception available through TRICARE without copay. 
  • Establish 12 weeks of paid family leave for all federal employees.
  • Improve tracking of non-citizen veterans honorably discharged from military service, intended to prevent unnecessary ICE deportations. 
  • Work to address gambling addiction among troops.
  • Study using chaplains, houses of worship and other spiritual resources for troops of all religions to help prevent suicide. 
  • Provide $2.5 million increase to combat post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • Several measures to study effects of burn pits.  
  • Provide $11 million increase in Wounded Warrior Service Dog Program. 
  • Allow Gold Star spouses to end leases of service members catastrophically injured, sickened or killed in military service.
  • Recognize, honor WWII Cadet Nurse Corps. 
  • Authorize Medal of Honor award to Sgt. 1st Class Alqyn Cashe for valor during combat in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
  • Direct DoD to raise priority of recovering remains of POW/MIA remains. 
  • Authorize DoD to give preference to contractors who employ veterans full time. 
  • Require DoD/VA to study the impact of withholding disability pay from veterans who receive separation pay.
  • Authorize award of Vietnam Service medal to veterans in Operation End Sweep.
  • Allow DoD to refer troops for mental health care within the TRICARE network if a military hospital takes longer than 15 days to help. 
  • Prohibit DoD from contracting with any company that does not have a sexual harassment policy.
  • Require more training on military sexual trauma and partner abuse.
  • Rename Lejeune High School at Camp Lejeune, N.C. after the late Rep. Walter B. Jones.

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