DEWINE PROVISIONS HELP OHIO TROOPS AND MILITARY FAMILIES
Senator Mike DeWine (R-OH), a member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, announced that a number of amendments and provisions he helped secure were included in the fiscal year 2006 Defense Authorization Bill (S. 1042) that passed the Senate today. This bill authorizes appropriations for military activities of the Department of Defense, military construction, and defense activities of the Department of Energy.
"Everyday, so many of Ohio's brave, young men and women defend this country's freedom and values. But they are not the only one's making sacrifices, family and friends back home are affected, as well." said Senator DeWine. "The measures and amendments I worked to include in this bill not only support Ohio's troops, but also their families and communities."
The following DeWine-sponsored provision was included in the bill:
TRICARE Prime For Kids
The Defense Authorization bill includes Senator DeWine's provision to extend TRICARE Prime medical insurance to any dependent child of a deceased service member at no cost until that child reaches the age of 21, or 23 if enrolled in school. Currently, dependent children of deceased service members receive TRICARE Prime for three years at no cost. Following that period, the dependent children may continue to receive TRICARE Prime at the retiree dependent premium rate.
"This provision just makes sense," explained Senator DeWine. "If the service member were still alive, he or she would be providing health care for dependent children. This ensures that those children's healthcare is not cut off by the tragic loss of a parent."
During Floor action, the Senate voted to include the following DeWine-led amendments in the bill:
Air Force Institute of Technology
This DeWine-led amendment, co-sponsored by Senator George Voinovich (R-OH), would authorize the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) faculty to apply for and accept private research grants. Currently, AFIT faculty does not have the ability to accept these grants, while the faculty at the U.S. Military Academy, the Naval Academy, and the Air Force Academy all have that opportunity.
"This will improve the AFIT faculty's ability to provide high quality research and enhance the mission-ready technology it already provides to the Air Force, while not impacting AFIT's budget requirements," added Senator DeWine.
Special Death Gratuity
This amendment would extend to all active-duty death beneficiaries the increased insurance payment that was granted for combat/combat-related deaths between October 7, 2001 and May 11, 2005. In May of this year, the insurance payment was increased for all active duty deaths from $250,000 to $400,000. Senator DeWine's amendment would make the retro-active increase apply to all active duty deaths since October 7, 2001.
Secondary Stryker Vehicle Tire Source
Senator DeWine, with Senator Voinovich, led this amendment, which requires the Department of Defense to conduct a study of the cost/benefit feasibility of pursuing a second source, Goodyear, from which to purchase Stryker vehicle tires. Strykers are considered to be one of the "go-to" combat vehicles for the army and are expected to be the lead vehicle until the Future Combat System is operational.
This DeWine-led amendment would enable defense-based fire departments and other federal firefighting units to offer assistance to neighboring communities. Currently, these fire departments may offer aid for "fire protection," however; recent legal interpretation has limited the phrase to apply to situations when something is physically on fire. This amendment will allow federal fire departments to offer a wider array of services, including HazMat response, EMS and rescue.
Centennial Health Care Services
This DeWine amendment requires the Secretary of Defense to conduct a feasibility study of creating a military and civilian partnership project to permit Department of Defense employees and workers from a non-profit health care entity to jointly staff and provide health care services to military personnel and civilians at a Department of Defense military treatment facility. The Wright-Patterson Medical Center and the Kettering Medical Center Network have been working on this type of collaborative project since December of 2003. The results of this study could launch the first health care delivery plan of this kind in the U.S.
Senator DeWine cosponsored the following amendments included in the bill:
Senator DeWine cosponsored Senator John Warner's (R-VA) amendment to increase the Army
and Marine Corps spending authorizations for up-armored humvees. In a hearing this summer both the Army and Marine Corps set the goal of primarily fielding the factory up-armored humvee in Iraq and Afghanistan, supplemented by up-armored humvees.
TRICARE For Reserves
Senator DeWine is an original cosponsor of Senator Lindsey Graham's (R-SC) amendment to expand TRICARE Prime eligibility for members of the Reserves. It would offer full-time TRICARE Prime eligibility to members of the Reserve Component at a monthly premium. Currently the Reserves have access to 1 year of coverage for each 90 days of active service.
C-17 Production Line
Senator DeWine was an original cosponsor of an amendment by Senators Jim Talent (R-MO) and Joe Lieberman (D-CT) to authorize the extension of the C-17 plane production line pending further airlift studies and to authorize the additional purchase of 42 C-17 planes. The landing gear for C-17s is produced at the Goodrich Landing Gear facility, located in Cleveland. The facility employs 193 people. Besides the Cleveland facilities, Ohio is home to 18 other suppliers for the C-17 plane.
Senator DeWine cosponsored an amendment by Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) that would repeal the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) - Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) payment deduction. Currently, the SBP payment is offset dollar-for-dollar by the DIC payment, except when the spouse elects for the child to receive the SBP. This amendment would eliminate the offset.
The bill now goes to a Conference Committee to work out the differences between the House and Senate versions.