The Senate armed services subcommittee on personnel released their version of the 2014 defense authorization bill. Like the House version, the Senate subcommittee mark-up fails to support White House’s proposed higher TRICARE fees. Of course the full Senate armed services committee will have an opportunity to weigh in on the subject long before this bill ever gets to the President – who has indicated a willingness to fight for his proposed budget.
According to a report by Tom Philpott, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) expressed disappointment that his colleagues have declined again to embrace any TRICARE fee increases, particularly on working age retirees. When the bill goes to the full SASC for mark-up of the bill, Sen. Graham intends to insist that his fellow senators embrace at least “modest adjustments” in fees to ensure that the prized TRICARE benefit is “sustainable” as overall defense budgets slide.
When it comes to the proposed 2014 military pay raise, the SASC subcommittee differed from their counterparts in the House. The subcommittee chose to accept the administration’s plan to cap the 2014 military pay raise at 1 percent. According to the WH, the House version will add $600 million to defense spending next year and $3.5 billion over the next 5 years.
If the full Senate votes to accept the pay cap, a House-Senate conference committee would have to work out the rate of increase for 2014.
Stay tuned for updates as the bill progresses through Congress.