This is TROA's Weekly Legislative Update for Friday, September 20, 2002.
Issue 1: Congress May Decide Next Week on Concurrent Receipt. We've met with Administration officials; we've visited Armed Services Committee members and staffs. NBC Nightly News ran another update last Monday. Now your help is needed for a final flood of grassroots messages and phone calls to let your legislators know you expect them to back up their word and put a concurrent receipt provision in the FY2003 Defense Authorization Act. TROA provides two options for this urgent action (see below).
Issue 1: Congress May Decide Next Week on Concurrent Receipt
It's coming down to crunch time as House and Senate leaders see if they can finish negotiations on the FY2003 Defense Authorization Bill over the next week or 10 days.
TROA, The Military Coalition, and many other military and veterans organizations have been busy this week bolstering the case to ensure the final defense bill includes a provision authorizing concurrent receipt of military retired pay and VA disability compensation.
Monday, representatives from TROA and a dozen other associations met with Special Assistant to the President Tim Goeglein to discuss the issue and deliver several letters from the Coalition and others urging the President not to veto the defense bill over concurrent receipt.
Monday night, NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw aired a fourth report on the concurrent receipt inequity, entitled "Broken Promises." Reporter Fred Francis has featured several disabled military retirees who never knew when they were serving that they would be forced to forfeit their earned retired pay for incurring a service-connected disability. TROA applauds NBC News, Tom Brokaw and Fred Francis for their persistence in highlighting the need to correct this long-standing inequity. If you missed it, you can read a transcript at www.msnbc.com/news/809143.asp . (NOTE: This is on MSNBC's Web site, not TROA's; MSNBC may delete it soon to put up newer items.)
This week, teams of representatives from multiple associations "stormed the Hill," visiting offices of House Armed Services Committee members to urge them to ensure the final bill includes concurrent receipt relief.
What's needed most now is a flood of messages and phone calls to legislators, urging them not to be deterred by any veto threat. We need the 90% of House members and 83% of senators who have cosponsored concurrent receipt legislation to put a fix in the defense bill. In the unlikely event that the President actually vetoes the bill for that reason, we'd expect them to stand by their cosponsorship word and vote to override any such veto.
Even if you've called or e-mailed your legislators on this issue before, we urge you to do that again now. After all these months of effort, let's not chance letting the final week pass without making our best push. Use one or both of the following:
1. Send a message to your legislators and the White House via TROA's Web site at http://capwiz.com/troa/home/ (use the top two links under "Action Alert").
2. Use TROA's toll-free Capitol Hill Hot Line (1-877-762-8762). When the Capitol operator answers, just ask to be connected to your legislator's office and tell the staffer you want your legislator to insist on retaining the concurrent receipt provision in the Defense Authorization Bill.