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Schrader Votes for National Defense Authorization Act

Congressman Kurt Schrader (D-OR) voted for the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) today which included his legislation to protect our veterans, increase transparency, and eliminate government waste. The package also includes authorizing language that streamlines bottlenecks for National Guard staff issues, requires DOD to develop better strategies on how to reach and engage with small business owners, as well as reforms for how DOD handles sexual and domestic assault cases within the military.

“Not the bill I would have written, this defense authorization package does have a lot of wins for our servicemembers and veterans back at home, and includes provisions for better budgeting,” said Rep. Schrader. “We have to take a holistic approach to our federal budget and that especially includes the Pentagon. We need to be smarter about the way we spend and not just spend more. DOD’s own business advisory board identified $125 billion in administrative waste and redundancies in their budget that could be used for better equipment and training for our troops rather than on outdated and unnecessary systems. My legislation that was included in this package will use their work to save taxpayer dollars and reallocate some of those funds to improve the lot of our servicemen and women. Americans deserve good stewardship of their hard earned money.”

Congressman Schrader’s legislation that was included in the package will protect Oregon veterans and eliminate or reallocate administrative waste at the Pentagon.

·       The Congressman’s bipartisan Department of Defense (DOD) Overhead Cost Savings and Transparency amendment would require DOD to report to Congress on ways they are finding to save money and the work they are doing to implement savings recommendations laid out by the 2015 Defense Business Board report. The 2015 report, commissioned by the Pentagon, revealed $125 billion that could be saved over five years in administrative waste and redundancies. The amendment also requires DOD to identify any recommendations that have not been implemented at this time and a list of alternative recommendations to achieve cost-savings throughout the agency. Rep. Schrader, along with Congressman Peter Welch (VT-At Large) introduced the legislation last year following the release of the 2015 report, which lays out suggested ways to cut through bureaucracy and obsolete technologies at the department.

·       The Congressman’s Recalled Veterans Protection amendment would create protections for service members who have been severely injured after being involuntarily called back to service, to ensure they are able to receive their due retirement pay. In Oregon, Sergeant First Class Alan Certain separated from the Army in 1992 under the Voluntary Separation Incentive (VSI) program, also known as a buyout meant to encourage permanent service member to retire early. In 2005, Certain was involuntarily called back to service in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom (OIF/OEF), and in 2010, he sustained injuries that rated him 100% service connected disabled. Upon his retirement in 2014, Certain should have begun to receive retirement pay. However, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) has withheld the veteran’s retirement checks until he returns the VSI amount in full. Existing law allows the DFAS to waive repayment, but does not provide consistent protection for veterans. Rep. Schrader’s RPVA legislation would support veterans by providing a blanket exemption from VSI repayment should they sustain a total service related injury during involuntary recall.