Hours after the Biden administration officially began, MOAA outlined its to-do list for the executive branch, complete with requests for action on nearly two dozen specific topics.
The new administration passed 100 days in office last week. It’s a traditional benchmark, but given the delays surrounding the full White House budget release, it’s too early to understand fully the level of importance the administration will put on key MOAA concerns. The budget proposal offers great insight into these priorities, and while the president’s discretionary request addresses some of these topics, it doesn’t get into enough specifics.
MOAA plans to keep the pressure on to ensure its priorities presented to the White House are well-represented in the final budget as well as this year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). These include ongoing efforts for a full pay raise and preventing any moves toward TRICARE fee increases, as well as continued efforts to reverse plans that would cut military medical billets.
While MOAA awaits progress on these major issues, there has been movement on some other requests made in the Jan. 20 letter:
- VA debt collection: The president signed an executive order Jan. 22 to delay VA debt collections. The department announced in March it would cancel any debts for copayments or other fees incurred from April 6, 2020, through Sept. 30, 2021, and would refund any payments already made for debts from that period.
- Military Lending Act protection: About a week into the new administration, the Consumer Finance Protection Board (CFPB) announced plans to restart supervisory exams on lenders, ensuring compliance with the Military Lending Act. MOAA supported this change, which reversed a 2019 policy and provides more protection for military family finances.
- Veterans and stimulus checks: MOAA sought coordination between the Department of the Treasury and the VA to ensure veterans who aren’t required to file federal taxes still received their Economic Impact Payments. In March, the IRS announced it was receiving required data from the VA and planned to send out these checks by mid-April; on April 14, it announced 320,000 stimulus payments worth a combined $450 million had been issued.
Other items on MOAA’s to-do list for the White House have not been addressed via specific legislation, but they’ve been part of the new administration’s own priority rollout. One example: New VA Secretary Denis McDonough echoed MOAA’s concerns about the need to expand GI Bill protections, ensure families of veterans who die of COVID-linked causes receive all their earned benefits, and support science-based methods to expand the list of conditions with presumptive links to toxic exposure.
Still other matters have yet to receive the attention they deserve, but they have not fallen off of MOAA’s radar. The administration can show its commitment to those who wear and have worn the uniform, and to their families, by addressing inequities in reserve-component benefits, supporting programs that raise the quality of life for military families, and addressing the proposed changes to Arlington National Cemetery eligibility – moves supported by an advisory council whose members have been released as part of a DoD-wide reform effort.
As the administration makes its priorities clear via budget materials and other actions, MOAA will continue its bipartisan work with executive and legislative officials to protect your earned benefits. Get the latest updates on these and other issues via MOAA’s Advocacy News page, and remember to contact your legislators using our Take Action Center.
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