Thompson Votes to Oppose Pay and Benefit Cuts to Active Duty Servicemembers

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Representative Glenn 'GT' Thompson (PA-5) today voted to oppose H.R. 5759, the Fiscal Year 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The legislation passed the House by a vote of 300-119.

"Reducing pay and benefits for our active duty soldiers and their families, without instituting broader reforms to reduce waste, fraud and abuse is not something I can support.  Men and women in the armed forces put their lives on the line for this country and should not be used as an offset for Washington’s budgetary shortfalls,” said Rep. Thompson.   

H.R. 5759 reduces pay and benefits for servicemembers and their families, including reductions in pay for Active Duty soldiers, reductions in the basic allowance for housing (BAH), and increased pharmacy fees and copays.

"On top of reductions in pay and benefit cuts, critical mental health provisions that previously passed the House with bipartisan support were not included in the final legislation. Congress missed an opportunity to fix the way the military identifies and addresses behavioral health conditions among incoming recruits and our soldiers; this is unacceptable,” Thompson stated.

The Medical Evaluation Parity for Servicemembers (MEPS) Act, which passed in May 2014 as part of the House's version of the 2015 NDAA and has been endorsed by over 40 military, veteran, and mental health advocacy groups, would institute a preliminary mental health assessment for all incoming military recruits.

The MEPS Act provisions were removed from the final House-Senate NDAA agreement (H.R. 5759).

“These provisions would have offered our military another tool to improve suicide prevention, and perhaps even prevent future mass shootings, such as the one that took place at the Washington Navy Yard in September 2013,” Thompson added.  

“The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) is disappointed to hear the MEPS Act will be removed once again from the NDAA,” stated Mr. Raymond Kelley, VFW’s National Legislative Director, a supporting organization of the MEPS Act. “We will continue to work with Congressman Thompson to pass this much needed provision.”