So about those reenlistment overpayments …
This week lawmakers from both sides of the aisle called for the Pentagon to suspend efforts to reclaim reenlistment bonuses. How's this relate to legislation currently pending in Congress? Keep reading!
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle called for Pentagon to suspend efforts to reclaim overpayments,
This week you heard a lot about unauthorized reenlistment bonuses in the news, and lawmakers had plenty to say about it. In fact, two lawmakers already announced plans to introduce related legislation.
So what exactly happened?
Thousands of National Guard members were enticed to re-enlist after receiving large bonuses of $15,000 or more. Several years later, a federal investigation revealed overpayments by the California National Guard, so the Pentagon ordered soldiers to repay the bonuses — often with interest charges, wage garnishments, and tax liens.
How long has this been going on?
In some cases, over a decade.
How did lawmakers respond?
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle urged the Defense Department to suspend collection of the bonuses. In fact, there was agreement across branches of government as President Obama said the Defense Department should not “nickel and dime” service members.
So what now?
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy called for a long-term legislative solution to ensure this type of situation does not happen again, echoed by Speaker Ryan who said Congress will work “to protect service members from lifelong liability for DOD’s mistakes.” Sens. Dianne Feinstein [D, CA] and Barbara Boxer [D, CA] announced they will introduce legislation to allow service members to keep their reenlistment bonuses. Meanwhile, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform launched an investigation, requesting relevant documents.
Does this have anything to do with the annual defense authorization?
Glad you asked! You may have heard about that because of a dispute with the 2015 authorization. Reps. Paul Cook [R,CA-8] and Jeff Denham [R, CA-10] pushed for a debt waiver amendment but abandoned the effort after being told the Pentagon already had the power to waive debts. Guard officials said they were told the measure was not included because it would require cuts elsewhere in the defense budget.
What's it got to do with this year's defense authorization?
Well the House-passed NDAA includes a provision that would would establish a 10-year statute of limitations on the military's ability to recover overpayments.
When lawmakers return next month, they’ll work to reconcile differences between the House and Senate versions. Learn more about both versions and use POPVOX to tell your lawmakers what you think!
A bipartisan group of senators released draft legislation to reform Medicare. The legislation, known as the Chronic Care Act, targets chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, with the objective of coordinating treatments to improve efficiency.
- Expanding a Medicare pilot program to send doctors and nurses to care for people at their homes
- Increasing the use of telehealth, technologies and devices used to deliver virtual medical services
- Improving flexibility for doctors who are paid based on coordinated care for patients
Lawmakers will introduce a final version upon returning to the Hill.
Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen [R, FL-27] and Frederica Wilson [D, FL-24] will travel to Haiti this weekend to examine hurricane relief efforts.
Rep. Bennie Thompson [D, MS-2] requested an audit from the Government Accountability Office regarding presidential campaign expenses.
Sen. Dick Durbin [D, IL] stopped by an event aimed at disposing of opioids properly.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand [D, NY] congratulated the first 10 women to pass the Army's Infantry Officer Leader Course.
- House will vote next month on Iran Sanctions Act renewal. House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce is expected to introduce the 10-year renewal as soon as Congress returns.
- House Democrats are working towards an agreement on Cures legislation.
- Lawmakers and the State Department are in disagreement over $55 million in aid for Honduras. See related Johnson bill.
- Reps. Schakowsky, Pallone, Butterfield, and Capps called on General Services Administration to stop selling vehicles under recall. House Oversight and Government Reform requested related documents for investigation, following Circa investigation.
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren [D, MA] criticized the Justice Department's settlement with Mylan.
- Rep. Mark Meadows [R, NC-11] is running for Freedom Caucus Chairman.
- Woman looking to lead should work for the federal government.
- House Republicans have tentatively scheduled their first closed-door leadership election for mid-November.
- Barack Obama is all about tech and Silicon Valley is happy to have him post-presidency.
- You don't understand the Electoral College. That's fine, here ya go.
- Department of Justice replaced its team investigating Eric Garner case. Case stalled as federal prosecutors, FBI officials, and DOJ officials disagreed over whether to bring charges.
- Rep. Gerry Connolly [D, VA-11] officiated another wedding.
- Newly scored from Congressional Budget Office: Veterans First Act, Isakson bill aimed at increasing accountability at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
- Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg will make her opera debut for one night only.
- House Science Chairman Lamar Smith accused Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy of giving misleading testimony regarding herbicide study.
- Because of a federal salary cap, hundreds of Secret Service agents won't be paid for months of overtime hours.
- Sens. Warren, Markey, Hirono, and Sanders questioned KPMG about its Wells Fargo audits.
- Sen. Jim Inhofe [R, OK] congratulated two staffers on getting engaged in the Capitol.
- New Amazon series includes a character based on Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton.
- Here's how fashion designers think a woman in the Oval Office should dress, along with real life Hill fashion.
- New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law one of the nation's toughest measures targeting short-term apartment rentals. New law could affect thousands of hosts. Airbnb filed a lawsuit.
- Next month New Jersey's gas tax will jump from one of the lowest in the country to one of the highest.
- Premiums for some plans under the Affordable Care Act will rise by an average of 25% next year. See accompanying Department of Health and Human Services research brief for state-level data.
- 2013 Supreme Court ruling is why you'll see less special election observers inside polling places.
- If elected Vice President, Sen. Tim Kaine [D, VA] will remain in the Senate until replacement is named. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence withdrew from the gubernatorial election because state law does not allow him to run for both offices simultaneously.
- Justin Timberlake's off the hook for posting a voting selfie. Check your state's laws.
- U.S. legal system uses race and gender to calculate the amount of money victims or families receive in injury compensation cases.
- It wasn't Patient Zero — New genomic sequencing research shows HIV likely arrived in the U.S. more than a decade before AIDS was discovered, debunking the longstanding myth and unearthing a costly typo.
- There is no 15th congressional district in Georgia.
- Federal law enforcement officials unsealed indictments against 56 people accused in Internal Revenue Service phone scam. You may remember this from a Senate Committee on Aging investigation last year.
- For the first time ever, U.S. abstained from annual United Nations vote to end U.S. embargo against Cuba, rather than voting in opposition.
- Venezuela's National Assembly will push for impeachment proceedings against President Nicolás Maduro.
- Where's Czechia?
- The Pentagon secretly expanded its global network of drone bases in North Africa, deploying unmanned aircraft to conduct spy missions in Libya.
- Wonder Woman was named a U.N. ambassador.
- Plan to send heavier weapons to CIA-backed rebels in Syria has stalled.
- Mosul offensive has European Union authorities worrying fighters will soon return home. An estimated 5,000 European residents have traveled to support ISIS.
- New report says official ISIL propaganda on social media is decreasing.
- 40% of female members of parliament report receiving threats of death, rape, and beatings, including threats to kidnap or kill their children.
Congress is back home working, and we're sending a recess version of Gavel Down — full of how current events relate to Congressional happenings, as well as updates on major legislation. Please keep in mind that highlighting a bill does not imply POPVOX endorsement in any way. As always, our goal is to offer one more way to help you stay informed about the complex U.S. legislative system.