Rep. Schrader Votes for National Defense Authorization for Fiscal Year 2020 Act
July 12, 2019
Contact: Larkin Parker, 202-225-5711
WASHINGTON, D.C. –Congressman Kurt Schrader (OR-05) voted for the National Defense Authorization for Fiscal Year 2020 Act today which included his amendments to protect the rights of Oregon veterans, increase Department of Defense transparency, and reduce government waste. The overall defense package includes a pay raise for our service members, provides key reforms for military housing improvements, requires stricter Congressional oversight of U.S. military in the Middle East, and promotes a more inclusive military where all Americans who wish to serve their country can do so.
“While this is not a perfect bill, it has some big wins for our brave servicemen and women, their families, and veterans back home in Oregon,” said Rep. Schrader. “The bipartisan amendment to block the use of military force in Iran and slow the escalating tensions between the United States and Iran was critical. This bill also repeals the horribly outdated 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force resolution so Congress can reclaim our constitutional war powers. After nearly two decades of war in the Middle East, it is high time for Congress to reassert our role in this incredibly important national conversation.”
Congressman Schrader proposed three amendments that were unanimously included in the final package and will protect Oregon veterans, ensure greater transparency with taxpayer dollars given to DOD, and provide greater notification of service members rights under existing federal law.
The Congressman’s Recalled Veterans Protection Act (RVPA) amendment creates retirement pay protections for service members who have suffered serious injuries after being involuntary called back to service. I began this initiative after hearing from a constituent, Sergeant First Class Alan Certain Alan Certain who sustained injuries that rated him 100% service-connected disabled when he was recalled after serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom. Upon his retirement in 2014, Certain should have begun to receive retirement pay. However, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) has withheld his retirement checks until he returns the VSI amount in full. Rep. Schrader’s RVPA amendment provides DOD with the authority to waive these repayments for veterans when they sustain a total service-related injury during involuntary recall.
Additionally, the Congressman cosponsored the Restore Honor to Servicemember amendment. This amendment would allow LGBTQ servicemembers who were discharged from the military under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell to appeal those discharges. It was included in the final package unanimously.
Rep. Schrader was joined by Reps. Rooney and Welch in a bipartisan amendment to provide public publication of Department of Defense agency-wide reports on cost-saving measures. Making these reports available will go a long way towards increasing transparency of the DOD budget process and ensure that identified efficiencies are met.
The final Schrader sponsored amendment provides recently separated service members with a six-month updated notification about their rights under the Servicemember Civil Relief Act and the protections they receive for 12 months after they separate from their service. The SCRA is meant to protect our warriors from undue financial burdens, but many are not aware of these protections.