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Hearing of the Senate Personnel Subcommittee of the Armed Services Committee - Markup of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014


Location: Washington, DC

Senator GILLIBRAND. Good afternoon. The Personnel Subcommittee will come to order. In prior years, the Personnel Subcommittee markup has been held in closed session, and I am pleased that this markup, my first as the chairwoman of the Personnel Subcommittee, will be held in an open session. I am confident that we can conduct our business in public without any disclosure of classified information or any adverse impact on the process. In this regard, I will ask that any senator wishing to offer an
amendment or raise an issue of a classified nature defer that to the full committee's consideration. Please note also that while the subcommittee meeting is in open session, the entire contents of the markup book are subject to amendment throughout its consideration by the Armed Services Committee, and are, therefore, embargoed until passage by the full committee and reported to the Senate. This markup is consistent with Chairman Levin's guidelines for the markup to, first, sustain the quality of life of the men and women of the all-volunteer force--active duty, national guard, and
Reserve, and their families--as well as Department of Defense civilian personnel through fair pay policies and benefits, and address the needs of the wounded, ill, and injured servicemembers and their families. And, second, to ensure the future capability, viability, and fiscal sustainability of an All-Volunteer Force.

We have before us today a markup package that contains 62 legislative provisions, seven items of special interest, and four budget items. The details of these proposals were briefed to the staffs of committee members last week, so I will limit my comments to the highlights. The total funding authorized for military personnel and
health care in the base budget would be $170.1 billion, a $1.7 billion increase than what Congress authorized last year and in line with the President's request. The mark also authorizes a pay raise of 1 percent for all members of the uniform services, which is consistent with the President's request. The mark would authorize a number of bonus and special pay authorities to encourage enlistment, re-enlistment, and continued service by active duty and Reserve component personnel. The mark does not include administration proposals to establish or increase TRICARE fees, deductibles, and co-payments for certain military retirees and their families. The mark would authorize the fiscal year 2014 active duty end strength requested by the Department of Defense--$520,000 for the Army, $323,600 for the Navy, $190,200 for the Marine Corps, and $327,600 for the Air Force. This represents a reduction in active duty end strength of over 40,000 servicemembers from this year's authorized levels. The mark would authorize Reserve component end strength in line with the President's request.

The mark would authorize the payment of the survivor benefit annuity to a special needs trust for the sole benefit of disabled dependent children incapable of self-support because of mental or physical incapacity. The mark would authorize a total of $30 million for supplemental impact aid, which includes $25 million for heavily impacted
schools and $5 million for schools with military children with severe disabilities. The mark would make various enhancements to DOD credentialing programs for servicemembers to help them take advantage of their military training and experience as they transition back to civilian life. The mark would allow for service credit for cyber space experience or advanced education for newly-commissioned officers. The mark would direct the Secretary of Defense to submit a report to Congress on current capabilities and feasibility of tracking suicides amongst military dependents in both the
Active and Reserve components. The mark also comprehensively addresses the issue of sexual assaults in the military. This subcommittee held a hearing on the topic, my first as chairwoman, in March, and just last week the full committee held an all-day hearing on the same topic with over 20 witnesses, including all the service chiefs. The mark provides--the mark includes provisions from various bills that have been filed on
this subject, including from my bill, the Military Justice Improvement Act, provisions that would establish new JAG 06 disposition authority and new separate convening authority for serious offenses, except for specified military unique offenses, removes character of the accused from Rule 306 of Rules for Court Martial as a factor a commander can consider in deciding how to dispose of an offense, and require commanders to report allegations of sexual-related offenses to criminal investigation organizations for investigation. From the Military Justice Improvement Act in a bill offered by Senator McCaskill, a provision that would amend Article 60 of the UCMJ to prohibit convening authorities from changing findings for certain serious offenses and require written explanations for changes in sentences.

From a bill offered by Senators Klobuchar and Murkowski, provisions that would express the sense of the Senate that rape, sexual assault, and forcible sodomy offenses should be tried by court martial, require that disposition of substantiated sexual-related offenses be noted in personnel records of the offenders, and require the retention of forms regarding both restricted and unrestricted reports for 50 years. From a bill offered by Senators Murray, Blumenthal, and Ayotte, provisions that would require all military departments to establish special victims counsel, enhance responsibilities for DOD Sexual Assault Prevention Response Office, require the Secretary of Defense to submit proposed legislation to prohibit sexual acts and contacts between military instructors and trainees, and ensure the availability of sexual assault response coordinators for members of the National Guard and Reserve. From a bill offered by Senators McCaskill and Klobuchar, a provision that would require the comprehensive review of training, qualifications, and experience of individuals responsible for sexual assault prevention and response programs. Finally, the mark includes a provision that would amend the military whistleblower protection statute to require inspectors general to investigate allegations of reprisals for reporting sexual assault. These are only a few highlights of the legislative package we present for markup. As I indicated earlier, your staffs have had full briefings on the provisions contained in the package. Senator Graham, would you like to give an opening statement?

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