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8 Navy | Summer 2017 Legislative Affairs AUSN's Legislative Agenda is Full Speed Ahead! O ver the past few months, AUSN's Legislative team has been busy lobbying Capitol Hill for the Blue Water Navy Act, reading and analyzing the House and Senate Armed Services Committees (HASC and SASC) National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2018, and participating in meetings with other Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) as well as the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committee (HVAC and SVAC) leadership concerning a new GI Bill. Both bills have been thoroughly analyzed by the Legislative depart- ment, and are being followed closely on Capitol Hill to ensure that both get passed and are sent to the President's desk before the budget deadline at the end of September. National Defense Authoriza- tion Act (NDAA) FY 2018 e NDAA for FY18 was released in two versions: one for the HASC and one from the SASC. Both bills discuss the importance of attaining the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) goal to build a 355-ship fleet to ensure that Navy readiness remains a top priority. e bills differ slightly in their procure- ment breakdowns and appropriations amounts, which will have to be resolved before the bill is voted on by both chambers. e bills also highlight and discuss different personnel issues and recommend different pay increases for troops. Overall, our analysis indi- cates that both bills seem to ask for more money, more ships and aircra, and more personnel requirements than President Trump's budget asked for. ough both committees debated, and ultimately cut the budget of a few specific procurement costs, the NDAAs for both chambers highlight the importance of Navy personnel and the Navy's need for more advanced, reliable, and newer aircra and ships. e HASC's National Defense Authorization Act asks for a 2.4% pay raise for troops, as it is important for retaining and recruiting the best personnel. e markup provides an additional $572.5 million for six V-22 aircra, supporting the Navy and Marine Corps unfunded requirements. e Committee believes that long term contracts with the shipbuilding industry are essential to reducing costs and delivering the ships the Navy needs. In keeping with the President's pledge to grow the Fleet, the mark adds five ships, including an additional Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, two Littoral Combat Ships, a Puller-class Expeditionary Support Base, and a San Antonio-class Amphibious Landing Platform ship. e SASC's NDAA asks for a 2.1% pay raise for troops, and an increase in 1,000 personnel for the active duty Marine Corps. e FY18 NDAA authorizes $25 billion for shipbuilding to fund 13 ships, which is $5 billion and five ships more than the Administration's request. is Committee also requires the Secretary of the Navy to report on the Navy's capacity to increase production of anti-sub- marine warfare and search and rescue rotary wing aircra to support the potential increase in the size of the surface fleet to 355 ships. Harry W. Colmery Veterans Education Assistance Act of 2017 (H.R. 3218) Over the past four months, AUSN met with a dozen other VSOs concerning GI Bill improvements. Enti- tlement benefits, STEM programs, school closures, and Yellow Ribbon Fry Scholarships were some of the many changes that were discussed. Rep. Phil Roe [R-TN-1], chairman of the HVAC, introduced the "Forever GI Bill," also known as the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 (H.R. 3218). is bill made the GI Bill a lifetime benefit for service members who have served the required three years. e bill eliminated the time limit of 15 years to use the benefit and allow Veterans to use their GI Bill AUSN has continually supported a blended VA system that allows Veterans to receive care in community-based programs as well as the VA.

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