Date: January 3, 2008
Congress Passes H.R. 1585,
The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008
On December 14, 2007, the Senate passed by a vote of 90 to 3 the conference agreement resolving the differences between the House-passed and Senate-passed versions of H.R. 1585, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008. Previously, on December 12, 2007, the House, by a vote of 370 to 49, passed the conference agreement.
The bill was presented to the President on December 19, 2007, and on December 28, 2007, the White House announced that the President intends to veto H.R. 1585 because of a provision in the bill that would allow plaintiffs in lawsuits against Iraq 's former regime to freeze assets needed for the current Iraqi government.
The bill as presented to the President contains the following provisions of interest to SSA:
Protection for Families Caring for Injured Service Members
• Would amend the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 to provide up to 26 weeks of unpaid leave during a single 12-month period to employees who are caring for family members who have been injured or become ill in the line of active military service. Eligible employees could elect (or employers could require) that accrued paid leave be substituted for unpaid leave. For civil service employees, annual or sick leave could be substituted for unpaid leave. This provision would be effective upon enactment.
Use of Leave Transfer Program by Wounded Veterans Who Are Federal Employees
• Would exempt wounded veterans who are Federal employees from exhausting annual and sick leave before receiving and using transferred leave if they sustained a combat-related disability while a member of the armed forces, and are undergoing medical treatment for that disability. Members of a reserve component of the armed services would also receive this exemption.
The exemption would apply so long as the service member continues the medical treatment for the disability, with a maximum length of five years from the start of the treatment. For qualifying individuals who are already being treated upon the enactment date of this provision, their five-year period of exemption would begin on the date of enactment. This provision would be effective upon enactment.
Handbook for Members of the Armed Forces on Compensation and Benefits Available for Serious Injuries and Illnesses
• Would require the Department of Defense to develop and maintain, no later than October 1, 2008, a comprehensive description of the compensation and other benefits to which a service member and that member's family would be entitled upon the member's separation or retirement from the Armed Forces as a result of a serious injury or illness.
In developing and maintaining this handbook, the Department of Defense would be required to consult with the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Social Security Administration. This provision would be effective upon enactment.
Comprehensive Policy on Improvements to Care, Management and Transition of Recovering Service Members
• Would require the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs to jointly develop and implement a comprehensive policy on improvements to the care, management, and transition of recovering service members. Among the areas covered by this policy would be the medical and disability evaluations of service members.
The Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs would have to develop this policy no later than July 1, 2008. In developing this policy, those departments would have to consult with other Federal departments, Federal agencies, and non-governmental organizations that have expertise in matters related to the policy.
The policy would assign recovery care coordinators to recovering service members. The recovery care coordinator's duties would include overseeing and assisting the service member in the service member's course through the entire spectrum of care, management, transition, and rehabilitation services available from the Federal Government, including those provided by the Department of Defense, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Labor, and the Social Security Administration. This provision would be effective upon enactment.
Bid Protests by Federal Employees in Actions under Office of Management and Budget Circular A–76
• Would give Federal employees or their representatives the same rights to appeal the outcome of a public private competition that other contractors competing against them already have. This provision would be effective upon enactment.
Public-Private Competition Required Before Conversion to Contractor Performance
• Would extend government-wide certain provisions regarding public-private competitions conducted by the Defense Department. A head of an agency would submit a report to Congress if the agency commences a private-public competition under this section. This provision would be effective upon enactment.
Disclosure of Government Contractor Audit Findings
• Would require the head of each Federal Agency to report semiannually to the chairman and ranking members of specific congressional committees on significant findings in audits of contractors completed by Agency's Inspectors General. This provision would be effective upon enactment.