The U.S. House passed the bipartisan conference report for the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) last week that includes pay raises for troops, a measure to address military housing, and military medical malpractice reform.
Last week’s NDAA provides a 3.1% pay raise for troops – the largest increase in a decade, according to U.S. Representative Richard Hudson (NC-08), Fort Bragg and Moore County Congressman.
Overall, the NDAA authorizes $738 billion in defense funding. It also:
Provides the resources to continue to rebuild readiness, advance modernization of the nuclear triad, develop emerging technologies, enhance missile defense, and confront our adversaries;
Maintains long-standing prohibitions on transferring detainees from Guantanamo Bay and constructing detention facilities in the U.S.;
Provides an additional $5.3 billion in emergency funding for military installations damaged by natural disasters;
Establishes the United States Space Force as the sixth branch of the military;
Provides up to 12 weeks of Paid Parental Leave for the Defense Department, Intelligence Community, and across the federal government, a key administration priority.
Earlier this year, Rep. Hudson introduced the bipartisan, bicameral Better Military Housing Act of 2019, legislation to improve oversight and bring much-needed transparency and accountability to military housing. The NDAA includes key provisions from Rep. Hudson’s bill, including provisions to:
Establish an IG review of privatized military housing;
Require the Services to establish a Tenant Bill of Rights that sets minimum acceptable livability standards, demands better communication, creates greater transparency, addresses establishment of a formal dispute resolution process, bans the use of non-disclosure agreements as a condition of moving out of military housing, and enhances protections against reprisal;
Require the Department to establish a standardized assessment tool to be used in evaluating military housing for certain risks, including lead and mold;
Increases transparency for families by requiring disclosure of major repairs/remediation prior to lease signing;
Require new quality control measures and increase health and hazard inspections;
Authorize additional funding to ensure installation housing offices are properly staffed.
Currently, the Feres Doctrine, which originated in a 1950 Supreme Court case, prevents service members from having their day in court when malpractice by military health care providers unconnected to combat results in severe injury or even death.
While the NDAA does not fully repeal the Feres Doctrine, it authorizes the Secretary of Defense to allow, settle, and pay an administrative claim against the United States for personal injury or death of a member of the uniformed services that was the result of medical malpractice caused by a Department of Defense health care provider. For the first time since 1950, U.S. military personnel would have legal recourse to seek payment from the military in cases of medical malpractice.
SFC Stayskal developed terminal lung cancer after being misdiagnosed in a military health facility.
“When I heard from constituents on changes they wanted to see to military policy, I immediately went to work,” said Rep. Hudson. “While this bill isn’t perfect, I’m proud to see many of these policy changes included in the bill. I’ll continue to look out for our soldiers and their families at Fort Bragg and across the district.”