Despite wide bipartisan support in both the House and Senate, the clock ran out on the 117th Congress before it passed much-needed reforms to benefit 50,000 combat-injured veterans. MOAA and The Military Coalition (TMC), a group of 35 organizations (including MOAA) representing nearly 5.5 million servicemembers, veterans, their families, and survivors, are working to ensure that doesn’t happen again.
TMC recently published a letter urging the members of the 118th Congress to sign onto the Major Richard Star Act, which would allow military retirees with less than 20 years of service who are eligible for Combat-Related Special Compensation (CSRC) to receive their full DoD retirement pay and VA disability pay. Current law requires a dollar-for-dollar offset, costing these veterans hundreds of dollars a month.
[TAKE ACTION: Urge Your Legislators to Support Concurrent Receipt]
Last year, over two-thirds of the 117th Congress supported this bipartisan and bicameral legislation, with 336 co-sponsors in the House and 67 in the Senate. Military and veteran service organizations (MSO/VSOs) have united with one voice to support our combat-injured veterans.
Why Speed Matters
The Major Richard Star Act is pending reintroduction in the 118th Congress with the same bill numbers as last Congress (H.R. 1282/S. 344). TMC’s goal is to grow the number of original co-sponsors prior to reintroduction.
The list of original House co-sponsors in the 118th Congress topped 160 at the end of January. The next milestone is to reach 290 co-sponsors before any other piece of legislation, making the bill first on the House Consensus Calendar, which opens March 1 with the new rules for the 118th Congress. Entry on the House Consensus Calendar can drive early negotiations for the bill, as the House must also grapple with rules for budgetary control.
The House and Senate versions of the bill are expected to be officially reintroduced in mid-February, so there is still time to get your elected officials signed on. Check here to see if they supported the legislation last session: H.R. 1282 | S. 344
Making the Case
Some lawmakers wait until the end of the year to support legislation, when it is already apparent it will not be included in the National Defense Authorization Act. By reaching out early in the session, and by noting a legislator’s prior co-sponsorship of the bill, constituents should have an easy “ask” – one that will help the bill’s path to passage considerably.
New members of Congress also need to hear from you. The TMC information paper is a persuasive document for new staffers to help their boss take a position.
The paper directly answers two common questions from staffers:
- How many veterans from my state would this help?
- What other organizations support this legislation?
You can also encourage your friends and network to call their legislators’ offices via MOAA’s toll-free Capitol Switchboard – 866-272-MOAA (6622) – and request a meeting to discuss this issue with their military legislative assistant or legislative director.
TMC’s advocates will gather on Capitol Hill all day Feb. 28 for visits with lawmakers who co-sponsored the bill last year and are not yet signed on. Reaching out to lawmakers before March 1, when the House Consensus Calendar opens, will help support this effort.
You can follow more about MOAA’s legislative priorities at MOAA’s Advocacy News page.
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