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Stop-Loss payments won't be retroactive...

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  • Stop-Loss payments won't be retroactive...

    Stop-loss payouts won’t be retroactive

    By Rick Maze - Staff writer
    Posted : Friday Sep 26, 2008 16:39:51 EDT

    A compromise defense funding bill includes a $500 monthly allowance for service members extended on active duty by stop-loss orders.
    But the deal will disappoint more than 160,000 people because it is not retroactive as previously proposed.
    Instead, about 12,000 soldiers would qualify for payments under the deal announced Sept. 23.
    The stop-loss allowance is included in an omnibus appropriations bill that provides one year of funding for defense, veterans and homeland security programs but temporary funding through March 6 for other federal agencies.
    Lawmakers are rushing to pass the omnibus bill before ending the current legislative session. Aides cautioned that while most differences have been resolved, the bill is subject to change if that is what it takes to get it passed.
    “Everything is a little fluid at this point,” said a House aide who asked to not be identified.
    Limiting the stop-loss allowance to troops whose duty is extended after the appropriations bill becomes law holds the cost to $72 million for fiscal 2009 — a small dent in the $487.7 billion set aside in the defense portion of the bill. Making the benefits retroactive would have cost about $280 million.
    But cost was not the only reason for limiting the benefits, aides said. Including the stop-loss allowance in the defense funding bill is a technical violation of congressional budget rules.
    New benefits, like this allowance, are supposed to be authorized in separate legislation and paid for in the appropriations bill. Cutting corners to authorize and fund something in the same bill is not unprecedented but traditionally is considered a temporary emergency step.
    Making payments retroactive to previous years would not qualify as a temporary emergency, aides said.
    When originally introduced by Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., and Rep. Betty Sutton, D-Ohio, the monthly payments to troops on stop-loss orders were to have been $1,500 a month and would have been retroactive to 2001, when the first stop-loss orders were issued.
    To shave costs, the allowance was reduced in July to $500 by the House defense appropriations subcommittee. At one point, Lautenberg proposed cutting it to as little as $200 to get other lawmakers to support the idea.
    All the services have used stop-loss orders since 2001. Of the more than 160,000 people who had their service involuntarily extended, 120,000 were in the Army, 40,000 were in the Air Force, 3,900 were in the Marine Corps and fewer than 1,000 were in the Navy.
    The Army is the only service still using stop-loss orders. Army leaders have told Congress they expect to continue using it through 2009 in order to deploy fully manned units with the right mix of people.

    ...And shephards we shall be. For thee my lord, for thee. Power hath descended forth from thy hand. That our feet may swiftly carry out thy command. So we shall flow a river forth to thee. And teeming with souls shall it ever be. E Nomini Patri, E Fili, E Spiritu Sancti.

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