Update: It was announced today that the House and Senate had agreed to exempt U.S. citizens from the detainee provision, making it much less likely to be vetoed by the President. As a result the 2012 Military Pay Raise should be safe.
If you Google the term “National Defense Authorization Act of 2012” you will likely see several headlines stating that the defense act is unconstitutional, over-stepping, and illegal. You may ask yourself, how is the annual authorization for funding for the military “unconstitutional?”
No, the issue is not military end strength or the 2012 proposed military pay raise, nor is it about the cost of military housing or extending the current special pay levels. The provision that was inserted into the over 680 page bill by the Senate – Senators McCain and Levin to be precise – is about giving the government the ability to hold those suspected of terrorism in custody without charges or due process. Many claim that this applies to U.S. citizens - even those living in the Unitied States. However, the currently posted version of the NDAA on the Library of Congress site appears to state that U.S. Citizens are exempt from the provision.
According to reports, if the bill is passed by Congress, administration officials say the President will likely veto the bill as currently written. Either way the NDAA is likely to be tied up in politics for the foreseeable future.
So, why am I writing about this in a blog dedicated to military and veteran benefits? Because this last minute insertion into the National Defense Act will likely delay the passage of the act and with it funding for military operations, procurement, personnel and military family programs, and the proposed 1.6 percent across-the-board military pay raise slated for 2012.
The good news is that other than the possible breach of the Constitution, the NDAA 2012 doesn't have many big surprises like the proposed drastic changes to TRICARE or the current military retirement program. We can expect those budget balancing cuts to come later in 2012.
As always, stay tuned for further details as they happen…