The FY 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) cleared its final hurdle in the closing hours of the 116th Congress, with an 81-13 vote in the Senate on Jan. 1 completing the veto-override process. The House voted to override the veto 322-87 on Dec. 28.
The passage maintains a streak of annual NDAA passage that dates to 1961. More importantly, it means a series of improvements to pay and benefits for servicemembers, retirees, veterans, and military families.
“While the last few steps of the process made the headlines, we can’t forget the work done months ago by our members nationwide in pushing their elected officials to include critical reforms in this annual legislation,” said MOAA President and CEO Lt. Gen. Dana Atkins, USAF (Ret). “From protecting the health care benefits of retirees and those in uniform to securing long-deserved coverage for tens of thousands of Vietnam veterans to a host of other meaningful changes, this NDAA is a reflection of the efforts of many MOAA members and so many others throughout the year.”
The enrolled legislation (PDF version) runs nearly 1,500 pages. MOAA previously outlined its contents and will be following up in the coming weeks with greater detail on the MOAA-supported measures it contains, to include:
- A 3% military pay raise, in line with the administration’s request and with the Employment Cost Index (ECI), as well as a raise in Hazardous Duty Incentive Pay (HDIP) from $250 to $275 per month and expanded HDIP parity between those in the active and reserve components.
- A halt to military medical billet cuts and plans to reorganize (and reduce retiree access to) dozens of military treatment facilities (MTFs) for 180 days after the bill’s passage. DoD must submit additional reporting and/or assurances to Congress before taking either action.
- The addition of bladder cancer, hypothyroidism and Parkinsonism to the list of conditions linked to Agent Orange exposure. Well-earned benefits will be available to 34,000 Vietnam veterans.
- A range of good news for military families, including greater access to child care, better spouse employment programs, expanded military housing protections, and long-sought improvements to the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) and TRICARE’s Extended Health Care Option (ECHO).
The legislation does not include new TRICARE fees or copay increases; the TRICARE Select Group A enrollment fee, which took effect Jan. 1, was part of the FY 2017 NDAA.
MOAA already has begun its work with the 117th Congress to expand and improve upon this legislation in the coming months. Keep track of ongoing efforts via MOAA’s Advocacy News page, and check out MOAA’s legislative priorities for the new year.