If the Senate version of the fiscal 2019 National Defense Authorization Act becomes law, less would change regarding the drawn-out process for National Guard officer promotions than if Congress ultimately approves the House bill’s version.
The Senate bill passed Monday does not require the Army and Air Force secretaries to review the process or report to Congress when promotion lists continue past their target publication dates. Instead, it allows the secretaries to decide on their own how to proceed if they determine delays are too long.
The House NDAA, which passed in May, is more deliberate, requiring the secretaries to recognize delays and explain the reasons for them, while also reviewing the current process with the intent of improving it. It would also make a Guard officer’s promotion effective on the date it was recognized by the state.
Ultimately, the final bill could include a compromise between the two versions of the federal recognition policy or, of course, nothing about it at all.
Currently, Guard officers wait six to 10 months or longer for the Pentagon to formally recognize a promotion already approved by the officer’s state or territory. In that time, they may work in the job of the higher rank, but receive the pay of the lower rank.
NGAUS supports fully the National Guard Promotion Accountability Act that was introduced in the House and Senate. Retired Brig. Gen. Roy Robinson, the NGAUS president, has said the legislation “would bring fairness to a process that now disrespects the Guard officer.”
The House NDAA absorbs the entire legislation, but the Senate NDAA ignores it in favor of a simplified policy. The White House and the Defense Department oppose the House version of fedrec, saying it provides an unfair advantage to Guardsmen over active-component officers. NGAUS believes the White House and Pentagon pushback influenced the Senate.
Negotiators chosen by the House and Senate defense committee leaders will reconcile the two versions of the NDAA in coming weeks, perhaps by the end of July, according to some news reports.
The Senate bill passed 85-10. It provides the military with $716 billion, including $68.5 billion for war spending, and offers a 2.6 percent pay raise.
NGAUS will soon have an analysis of the 1,000-plus pages of the legislation available at www.ngaus.org.