VFW Washington Weekly October 9, 2006 In This Issue: 1. COLA Headed to President 2. Defense Bills Cleared 3. Congress Out Until After Elections 1. COLA Headed to President Congress agreed and passed the annual cost-of-living-adjustment for disabled veterans. The bill, S. 2562, increases the rates of disability compensation for service-connected veterans and dependency and indemnity compensation (DIC) for the survivors of certain disabled veterans. The rate, determined by the increase in benefits provided under the social security index looks to be about 2.9 percent. The rates are effective December 1, 2006. The President is expected to sign the bill soon. For more information visit the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee website at: http://veterans.senate.gov/ 2. Defense Bills Cleared Before heading out of town to campaign, Congress cleared the Defense Authorization and the Defense Appropriations bills. The bills provide both the funding and a guide as to how the money is going to be spent by DOD. The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) provides $463 billion dollars for FY 2007. It also includes $70 billion in supplemental spending for the War in Iraq. The Defense Appropriations Bill was passed and quickly sent to the President and signed into law (PL 109-289). The final NDAA conference report found several VFW-supported provisions being cut - including one that would have provided $19 million for Traumatic Brain Injury Research. The TBI funding has been transferred into the Military Construction/VA Appropriations bill and will be considered when Congress returns after the election. The following VFW-supported items were not included in the Conference Report: **Concurrent Receipt for Individual Unemployables (IU), would change the effective date to Dec 31, 2004 instead of current Oct 1, 2009 **Paid up SBP Plan, would have moved the effective date to 10/1/06 for SBP-DIC offset and allowed for immediate 30-year paid up coverage for those 70 years and up **Reserve Retirement which would reduce retirement age by 3 months for every 90 days mobilized since 9/11 A complete list of provisions can be found on the Armed Services websites at: Senate Armed Services - http://armed-services.senate.gov/press.htm\ House Armed Services - http://www.house.gov/hasc/pressreleases/ 2. Congress Out Until After Elections Congress recessed and headed home to their home states to campaign before the November elections. Leaving all but the Defense and Homeland Security funding bills unfinished, they are expected back in Washington the week of November 13 – A continuing resolution was passed to keep the government running until November 17. ** The Washington Weekly will return after the November elections with final updates on important issues still pending in the 109th Congress.