Summary: S.4 — 106th Congress (1999-2000)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Passed Senate amended (02/24/1999)


Title I: Pay and Allowances

Title II: Retirement Benefits

Title III: Montgomery GI Bill Benefits

Title IV: Report

Soldiers', Sailors', Airmen's, and Marines' Bill of Rights Act of 1999 - Title I: Pay and Allowances - Waives during FY 2000 any required adjustment in the rates of monthly military basic pay in conformance with the General Schedule of the Federal Government. Increases such pay by 4.8 percent, effective on January 1, 2000. Provides: (1) an increase in such pay as of July 1, 2000, for officer and enlisted personnel within specified pay grades; and (2) a pay increase for fiscal years after 2000 of one percent over the percentage increase as calculated under the Employment Cost Index.

(Sec. 103) Directs the Secretary of the military department concerned (Secretary concerned) to pay a special subsistence allowance of $180 for each month in which an enlisted member in pay grade E-5 or below is eligible to receive food stamp assistance. Terminates or reestablishes such entitlement under certain conditions.

(Sec. 104) Authorizes the Secretary concerned, subject to available appropriations, to pay all of the charges of an educational institution for the tuition or expenses of a member of the armed forces deployed outside the United States in support of a contingency operation or similar operation while such member is so deployed.

(Sec. 105) Increases as of October 1, 1999: (1) the monthly rate of diving duty special pay; (2) the maximum reenlistment bonus for active-duty military personnel; (3) the enlistment bonus for members with critical skills; (4) the special pay and bonuses for nuclear-qualified officers; and (5) the maximum monthly rate authorized for foreign language proficiency pay.

(Sec. 110) Authorizes the payment of career enlisted flyer incentive pay to military personnel who: (1) are entitled to military basic pay or payment as a member of the National Guard or reserves; (2) hold a military occupational specialty or rating designated as a career enlisted flyer specialty or rating by the Secretary concerned and continue their proficiency in such specialty or rating; and (3) are qualified for aviation service. Provides payment amounts based on years of aviation service. Prohibits such pay for members already receiving either hazardous duty incentive pay of diving duty special pay.

(Sec. 111) Authorizes payment of a special warfare officer retention bonus to officers who: (1) are qualified for and serving in a special warfare military occupational specialty or designator; (2) are in pay grade O-3 or O-4; (3) have completed at least six, but not more than 14 years of active commissioned service; (4) have completed their current service commitment; and (5) agree to remain on active duty in such specialty for at least one more year. Limits such bonus to no more than $15,000 per year of additional commitment.

(Sec. 112) Authorizes the payment of a retention bonus to Navy or Naval Reserve officers who: (1) are designated and serving as a surface warfare officer; (2) are in pay grade O-3; (3) have been selected for assignment as a department head on a surface ship; (4) have completed at least four, but not more than eight, years of active commissioned service; (5) have completed their current service commitment; and (6) have agreed to remain on active duty for at least two years and through the tenth year of active commissioned service. Limits such bonus to no more than $15,000 for each year covered under the agreement.

(Sec. 113) Amends Federal provisions authorizing the payment of aviation career officer special pay to: (1) extend through December 31, 2004, the authorized period for such payments; (2) repeal a provision limiting such payment to officers who have completed at least six, but no more than 13, years of active duty; (3) repeal a provision limiting such payment to $12,000 for officers agreeing to extend such duty for one, two, or three years; (4) lengthen the authorized period for prorating such payments; and (5) repeal certain content requirements of an annual report concerning such special pay.

(Sec. 114) Extends through December 31, 2002, certain active duty and reserve bonuses and special pay authorities, as well as bonuses and special pay authorities for nurse officer candidates, registered nurses, and nurse anesthetists.

(Sec. 117) Expresses the sense of the Congress that there should continue to be parity between the adjustments in compensation of members of the armed forces and U.S. civilian employees.

(Sec. 118) Authorizes the payment of special duty assignment pay to reserve personnel not on active duty at the time of such assignment.

(Sec. 119) Expresses the sense of the Senate that: (1) the two-month extension of the deadline for filing tax returns for certain military personnel serving outside the United States or Puerto Rico at the time of required filing should be codified; and (2) eligible personnel should be able to use such extension without accumulating interest or penalties.

(Sec. 120) Revises provisions concerning the military special supplemental food program to: (1) direct (currently, authorize) the Secretary of Defense (Secretary) to carry out a program to provide supplemental foods and nutrition to military personnel serving outside the United States and civilian employees accompanying such personnel; (2) require the Secretary of Agriculture to make available to the Secretary for FY 1999 through 2003 certain funds for such program; (3) consider eligible under such program a person already certified for participation in the special supplemental nutrition program for women, infants, and children under the Child Nutrition Act of 1996; and (4) require a report from the Secretary to the Congress on the program.

Title II: Retirement Benefits - Authorizes the payment of a lump-sum bonus of $30,000 to a member who: (1) first became a member on or after August 1, 1986; (2) has completed 15 years of active duty; and (3) executes a written agreement to remain on active duty until the completion of 20 years of such service. Requires notification of those eligible for such bonus. Requires a pro rata repayment of such bonus when the full additional period is not completed. Authorizes a waiver of the repayment requirement when against equity or good conscience or contrary to the best interests of the United States.

(Sec. 202) Authorizes, beginning on July 1, 2000, a member serving on active duty and a member of the Ready Reserve in any pay status to participate in the Federal Thrift Savings Plan, with a maximum annual contribution of five percent of basic pay and any special or incentive pay. Prohibits matching Federal agency contributions. Adds a representative of such members to the Employee Thrift Advisory Council.

(Sec. 203) Authorizes the Secretary concerned to enter into an agreement to make contributions to the Thrift Savings Fund for the benefit of a member who: (1) is in a specialty designated as critical; and (2) agrees to continue to serve on active duty in such specialty for a period of six years.

(Sec. 204) Amends Federal employment law to repeal a required reduction in military retired or retainer pay for retired military personnel who become Federal employees.

Title III: Montgomery GI Bill Benefits - Increases for FY 2000 the monthly rate of educational assistance paid to veterans pursuing a program of education on a full-time basis under the veterans' educational assistance program (VEAP).

(Sec. 302) Terminates a one-year reduction in the basic pay of military personnel who choose not to participate in VEAP.

(Sec. 303) Authorizes the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, when appropriate, to make accelerated payments under VEAP pursuant to an individual's request.

(Sec. 304) Authorizes such Secretary to permit individuals entitled to assistance under VEAP to transfer such assistance to the individual's spouse, one or more children, or a combination thereof. Requires the individual to designate the transferees chosen, the percentage of assistance for each, and the period in which such transfer shall be effective. Requires any child receiving such assistance to complete his or her entitlement before attaining 26 years of age.

(Sec. 305) Includes within the term "program of education" for purposes of GI Bill educational benefits a preparatory course for a test that is required or utilized for admission to a college or graduate school.

Title IV: Other Educational Benefits - Authorizes the accelerated payment of certain educational assistance for members of the Selected Reserve, at the request of such member and when considered appropriate by the Secretary concerned.

(Sec. 402) Extends the authorized period for the use of GI Bill educational assistance benefits for Selected Reserve personnel who serve on active duty pursuant to military order.

Title V: Report - Directs the Secretary to submit annually to the Congress an assessment of the effects of this Act on military personnel recruitment and retention.

(Sec. 502) Directs the Comptroller General to study and report to the Secretary on the policies, procedures, and practices of the military departments for protecting the confidentiality of communications between a dependent of a member of the armed forces who is a victim of sexual harassment, sexual assault, or intrafamily abuse, or who has engaged in such conduct and a therapist, counselor, or other professional from whom such individual seeks advice.

Title VI: Miscellaneous - Amends the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Uniformed Services (CHAMPUS) to direct the Secretary to ensure that the health care coverage available through the TRICARE program (a Department of Defense managed health care program) is substantially similar to the health care coverage available under similar health benefits plans offered under the Federal Employees Health Benefits program. Outlines provisions concerning patient management, reimbursement of health care providers, and the authority for military health care facilities to collect from third-party insurers the costs of health care services provided to covered beneficiaries. Directs the Secretary to report to the Congress assessing the effects of the implementation of this section.

(Sec. 602) Expresses the sense of the Senate urging the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to: (1) review the policies and procedures of the Veterans Benefits Administration of the Department of Veterans Affairs to identify areas in which such Administration does not currently process claims for veterans' benefits in a manner consistent with objectives set forth in the National Performance Review; (2) initiate necessary actions to process such claims in such manner; and (3) report to the Congress on measures taken to improve processing time for such claims.

(Sec. 603) Adds lung cancer, colon cancer, and tumors of the brain and central nervous system to the list of diseases which will be presumed to be service-connected and, therefore, compensable under veterans' compensation or benefits provisions.

(Sec. 604) Amends title XVIII (Medicare) of the Social Security Act to authorize the Secretaries of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Veterans Affairs (VA) (the administering Secretaries) to establish a demonstration project under which the HHS Secretary reimburses the VA Secretary for Medicare health care services furnished to certain veterans at a VA medical facility. Makes eligible for such services a veteran who has attained age 65, is entitled to Medicare benefits, and was enrolled for Medicare benefits on the date of enactment of the Veterans' Equal Access to Medicare Act. Requires voluntary participation of eligible veterans under the demonstration program. Directs the administering Secretaries to establish a data matching program under which there is an exchange of information between HHS and VA to identify those entitled to such benefits. Allows the administering Secretaries to select up to ten demonstration sites in geographically dispersed areas for program participation. Requires at least one site to: (1) be near a base which was closed under a defense base closure law; and (2) serve a predominately rural population area. Requires the demonstration project to be conducted during the three-year period beginning on January 1, 2000. Authorizes the HHS Secretary to waive certain Medicare requirements in connection with the program. Requires the administering Secretaries to submit to the appropriate congressional committees a copy of the demonstration program agreement.

Authorizes the VA Secretary to establish and operate up to four managed health care plans at demonstration sites. Requires such Secretary to submit to the Congress a plan for the use of appropriate sites and entities. Requires certain certifications from the VA Inspector General before a plan may be implemented.

Directs the HHS Secretary to reimburse the VA Secretary for demonstration project services at specified rates. Provides for such payments from Medicare trust funds, with an annual limit of $50 million. Authorizes the reduction of such reimbursement payments for VA failure to maintain its effort level for targeted veterans.

Directs the administering Secretaries to closely monitor the expenditures made under the Medicare program for targeted veterans during the period of the demonstration project compared to expenditures that would have been made for such veterans if the demonstration project had not been conducted. Requires: (1) an annual report by the Comptroller General during each year of the demonstration project; (2) the administering Secretaries to take certain steps in the case of increased costs under the demonstration project; (3) the administering Secretaries to arrange for an independent evaluation of the demonstration project; (4) annual reports from such independent entity during the demonstration project period; and (5) a report from the administering Secretaries on the possibility of extending the demonstration project, making it permanent, or expanding it to cover additional demonstration sites.