Defense bill contains more than just DADT
Published: December 6, 2010
WASHINGTON -- The Senate has just a few weeks left this year to pass the annual national defense authorization act, headlined this time by “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal. But the controversial provision is not the only important item included in the legislation.
If the measure is held up by Senate Republicans, it could stall the military’s annual pay raise (which would be either 1.4 percent or 1.9 percent in January) and a host of recruiting and enlistment bonuses. The 2011 NDAA also includes language extending Tricare coverage to dependent children of troops until age 26, increases hostile fire and imminent danger pay, and provides millions in impact aid to schools with a high enrollment of military children.
If Congress doesn’t pass the NDAA – it’d be the first time in more than 40 years they failed to do so – that doesn’t mean those items will all be lost. Lawmakers are likely to include critical military pay authorizations in a continuing resolution, effectively keeping the military running until the new Congress can take up the issue next year.
But more controversial and complex issues could get lost in the shuffle. A Senate provision to allow abortions at overseas military bases will almost certainly require another full debate in both chambers.
And a House provision guaranteeing two weeks of leave for spouses, parents or children of deploying troops (to make sure they have time to say their goodbyes before the servicemembers depart) would also be a likely victim of a delay.
By the end of this week, Senate Democrats should know whether they’ll be able to muster the votes to bring the authorization bill to the floor for a full-chamber vote, or if they’ll have to find other ways to keep money flowing to the military.