Congress Divided on TRICARE, Pay, Housing

June 24, 2016

The House and Senate have both passed their versions of the FY17 Defense Authorization Bill, and they disagree on many important issues, including TRICARE fee hikes, housing allowance cuts, the military pay raise, and force levels.

Health Care

In the wake of last year's retirement reform, Armed Services Committee leaders are now focused on overhauling the military health care system.

The Senate would apply new and higher fees to current beneficiaries.

The House would grandfather currently serving and retired members and families against the large fee hikes.

Housing Allowances

The Senate bill would cap housing allowances at current BAH rates or the servicemember's actual housing cost, whichever is less, beginning with the first PCS after Jan. 1, 2018. That could have a big effect on many military homeowners. The Senate bill also would dramatically cut housing allowances for dual-military couples and other military sharers of housing by many thousands of dollars a year.

The House bill does not make any changes to housing allowances.

Pay Raise

The House bill provides servicemembers the full pay raise allowed by law - the same 2.1 percent pay raise experienced by the average American (as measured by the Employment Cost Index).

The Senate bill accepted the administration's proposal to cap the 2017 pay raise at 1.6 percent - which would be the fourth consecutive pay raise cutback.

Force Levels

The House bill increases force levels above the DoD budget request by 20,000 for the Army; 15,000 for Army National Guard; 10,000 for Army Reserve; 4,000 for the Air Force; and 3,000 for the Marine Corps, but reduces Navy forces by 4,500.

The Senate bill accepted all of the administration's proposals to cut force levels, including reducing the Army to 450,000, down from a wartime peak of 570,000.

See MOAA's side-by-side comparison of key House and Senate differences on these issues and more.

What's Next

Lawmakers and their staffs already have had initial meetings to start resolving differences between the two bills.

Senate Armed Services Committee chair John McCain (R-Ariz.) has said he wants to complete action on the defense bill as quickly as possible.

Your grassroots input is needed to help influence the process.


Act Now!

Please send your elected officials a MOAA-suggested message urging them to protect the military community against disproportional cuts to “people programs.”

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