Stan Spangle Sr.: U.S. House votes down defense budget cuts
Because the 4th of July is the day before the first Saturday of the next quarterly get-together, we will postpone the gathering a week. Let’s plan to meet July 12 at the Highland United Methodist Church, at 1015 Mill Ave., in High Point.
So enjoy the summer cookouts with family and friends on the Fourth. I will be reminding us of this change in meeting day. My calendar tells me that I have two more Vets Views to get out before our July 12 meeting.
Before we move on, let’s pause for a minute to remember those who stormed the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, 70 years ago today. ...
... Now, in other news important to veterans, three weeks ago yesterday the House passed its version of the FY2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) (H.R. 4435) by a bipartisan vote of 325-98. The bill does not include numerous cuts that the administration had asked for. These included, consolidation of the TRICARE programs, yearly enrollment fees for Tricare For Life, increased pharmacy co-pays, and cutting next year’s pay increase from the scheduled 1.8 percent to 1 percent and much more. The White House has already threatened a veto. Retiring HASC Chairman Buck McKeon, R-Calif., when presenting the bill to Congress, praised the bipartisan work that lead to the passing of the bill for the 53rd straight year saying: “Congress has no higher responsibility than to provide for the common defense.”
The measure would authorize $592.9 billion for discretionary Pentagon and other Defense-related programs in fiscal 2015, $2.7 billion less than the President’s request, including $79.4 billion for overseas contingency operations. It’s far from clear where the cuts will come from in the defense budget in FY2016 if sequestration continues (which seems extremely likely). Chairman McKeon, R-Calif., noted, “This bill makes for tough choices; Congress will be called upon to make some impossible choices in years ahead if sequestration is not soon addressed.”
The fact is that Congress was told about the issues facing Department of Veterans’ Affairs hospitals during whistleblower hearings two years ago. But now they have begun to act in the wake of devastating news stories about long wait times at VA hospitals that have been hidden by falsified government records. The news coverage lit a fire that has forced Congress to act, and House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller, R-Fla., said he’s drafting legislation that would require care be offered outside the VA system to veterans who waited at least 30 days for a medical appointment. The proposal has support from House Speaker John Boehner and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
According to a Military Times poll, almost three-fourths of respondents say that the proposed 1 percent pay raise next year would significantly harm morale. The Defense Department requested a 1 percent pay raise for fiscal 2015, less than the 1.8 percent growth projected for private-sector paychecks. The Senate Armed Services committee looks like it is going to recommend the 1 percent raise.
Pray for the families of the fallen.
Gy/Sgt. Stan Spangle Sr., USMC, (Ret.) is a 21-year veteran of the Marine Corps, serving in Korea and Vietnam. He’s a member of numerous veterans organizations. Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the author.