White House Opposes ‘FedRec’ Legislation

NGAUS Washington Report
June 5, 2018

Legislation to hasten federal recognition of National Guard officer promotions does not have the blessing of the White House. The administration of President Trump cites “inequitable treatment” of Guard and active-component and Reserve officers as one reason it opposes the National Guard Promotion Accountability Act.

Guard officers commonly wait in excess of six months and sometimes much longer for the Pentagon to approve a promotion already endorsed by the state. The additional pay does not kick in until the federal recognition, but the officer may spend those months performing the job of the higher rank while receiving the lower rank’s pay.

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The act, which has the support of NGAUS, requires service secretaries to review the process in an attempt to complete it more quickly. It would also provide some officers with back pay to the time of the state promotion.

But active-component and Reserve officers wait, too, for recognition of their promotions. Sometimes six months pass from the promotion board’s recommendation to the final approval. The administration thinks it would be unfair to back-date the Guard promotions, as the legislation would do, but not the others.

The bill is included in the House version of the fiscal 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, H.R. 5515, and some version of the legislation is expected to be in the Senate NDAA when it is released this week or next.

Following the release of the House NDAA, the White House Statement of Administration Policy had this to say regarding the section on Guard officer promotions: “By mandating an effective date of promotion after Federal Recognition based upon the actions of a Governor of a State, the provision infringes on the authority of the President and Secretaries of military departments to appoint officers in the National Guard of the United States, which is part of the military’s Reserve Component. This provision would result in inequitable treatment among National Guard officers and similarly situated Regular Army, Regular Air Force, United States Army Reserve, and United States Air Force Reserve officers who are also subject to review before their appointment is tendered.”

During a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in April, Army Secretary Mark Esper signaled his support for a change, saying to Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., “I think there are ways we can reduce the time.” He also agreed when Warren said the current system threatens morale.

Warren and Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., are authors of the Senate’s National Guard Promotion Accountability Act. The House bill is sponsored by Rep. Trent Kelly, R-Miss., and Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, D-N.H.