‘Skinny’ NDAA Leaves Out Critical Protections for Troops, Veterans, and Widows

‘Skinny’ NDAA Leaves Out Critical Protections for Troops, Veterans, and Widows
Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., flanked by Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., left, and Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., speaks to the media before a National Defense Authorization Act Conference Committee meeting on Sept. 19. This week, Inhofe introduced a "Skinny NDAA" that leaves out many of the programs under discussion by the conference committee. (Photo by Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images)

Amid growing concerns lawmakers will be unable to come to an agreement on the annual defense authorization bill, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) introduced a “skinny NDAA” Oct. 29 to ensure essential defense programs continue uninterrupted.

While the new, $738 billion bill authorizes next year’s 3.1% military pay raise, extends bonus and incentive pays, provides for quality-of-life programs for military families, and includes funding for military construction and acquisition programs, it leaves out several MOAA-supported issues that are addressed in either the House or Senate NDAA versions, or in both. This includes language that would:


[TAKE ACTION: Ask Your Lawmaker to Back MOAA’s NDAA Priorities]

The cuts cover over 1,900 pages of legislative text. Inhofe said he introduced a skinny NDAA “to preserve all options” to continue Congress’s 58-year streak of passing an annual defense bill.

"A skinny bill is not a substitute for a full bill, but it might be a necessary next step if we don't reach an agreement soon," said Inhofe.

However, some lawmakers are throwing cold water on the notion of a skinny NDAA and see the move as a negotiating tactic. House lawmakers remain concerned that a skinny NDAA can’t pass in the chamber.

The defense bill remains in a conference committee of House and Senate lawmakers, who remain at odds over a number of issues. While the new fiscal year technically began Oct. 1, the government is operating under a temporary funding measure, known as a continuing resolution, until Nov. 21.

During that time, DoD cannot begin dozens of new projects while the department operates under last year’s authorization and funding levels.

A skinny NDAA would abandon much of the hard work lawmakers and congressional staff spent this year crafting a full defense bill. While the brinksmanship continues, time is running out for conferees.

Hopefully, the prospect of a bill in which both sides lose forces Congress to pass a bill that includes MOAA’s priorities. Click here to ask your lawmakers to ensure a full defense bill, including those key passages, reaches the president’s desk.

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About the Author

James Naughton

James Naughton focuses on survivors issues and military compensation in addition to playing a key role in legislative research and analysis for MOAA's Government Relations team. He currently serves as the Corporate Secretary of The Military Coalition.