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Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter

Representing the 1st District of New Hampshire

Bipartisan Shea-Porter, Kelly, Gaetz National Guard Promotion Accountability Act Adopted by House Armed Services Committee

May 9, 2018
Press Release
Legislation Would Remove Bureaucratic Obstacles to Ensure Guard Officers Receive Pay and Benefits They Have Earned

WASHINGTON, DC— Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) today announced that her legislation, the National Guard Promotion Accountability Act, has been adopted by the House Armed Services Committee to be included in the FY2019 National Defense Authorization Act. The bill is cosponsored by Congressmen Trent Kelly (R-MS) and Matt Gaetz (R-FL), and the Senate companion was introduced by Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Steve Daines (R-MT).

“It is completely unfair that Guard officers are being promoted and asked to work in their new jobs with greater responsibilities, but are being paid at their former salaries because of bureaucratic delays at the Defense Department,” said Shea-Porter. “We need to get this fixed. Such delays deprive National Guard members of the pay they deserve, reduce their time in rank, and may pose retention problems.”

Click here to watch Congresswoman Shea-Porter’s remarks on the bill.

When soldiers and airmen in the National Guard receive a promotion or appointment to a higher rank, it must be recognized by both by the state and the federal government. While thorough review is important, undue delays in the federal recognition process can have particularly negative consequences for Guard officers. An informal survey conducted by the National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS) showed that nearly half of respondents reported delays in federal recognition beyond the target 180- to 195-day period, with some waiting over a year for promotion. Guard officers acting in a more senior role while waiting for their promotion to be federally recognized do not receive commensurate pay and benefits. Delays impact time in grade, or can result in officers being evaluated in lesser positions than they are qualified to perform. And Guard officers may be passed up for additional responsibility, such as command, when working hand-in-hand with their active duty counterparts on a federal mission.

The National Guard Promotion Accountability Act would take steps to fix this problem by:

  • Backdating the date of rank: upon receiving federal recognition, an officer’s promotion would be considered effective on the date at which it was recognized by the state. This allows Guard officers to claim that time in grade at the higher rank, improving future promotion opportunities and making them eligible for back-pay.
  • Imposing notification requirements for delayed federal promotion recognition: the Secretaries of the Amy and Air Force would be required to report on the status of promotion scrolls that exceed their target publication date and the reason for any delays, providing more transparency around the process.

A second Shea-Porter amendment, also cosponsored by Reps. Gaetz (R-FL) and Kelly (R-MS), required a report on improvements to the process. The amendment directed the Secretaries of the Army and the Air Force to examine their existing promotion review process and report to the congressional defense committees with recommendations for improvements, including considering automation, additional delegated authorities, or streamlining of existing steps.

Congresswoman Shea-Porter has promoted legislation to ensure National Guard Members receive the pay and benefits they have earned. She co-introduced the Reserve Component Benefits Parity Act, which would provide fairness to certain mobilized National Guard and Reserve Component servicemembers by extending to them eligibility for certain benefits available to Active Component forces that deploy to carry out equivalent duties. Many of that bill’s provisions have been signed into law, including the TRICARE fairness provision Shea-Porter secured in the FY2018 National Defense Authorization Act. Now all National Guard and Reserve Component servicemembers have access to pre-and post-deployment TRICARE health coverage.  

 

Shea-Porter’s full remarks are below:

Mr. Chairman, I want to thank the Committee for including this common-sense amendment in the en bloc package.

The National Guard is an effective, reliable operational force, and that makes the increasing delays in federal recognition of their promotions so unfair. It is completely unfair that Guard officers are being promoted and asked to work in their new jobs with greater responsibilities, but are being paid at their former salaries because of bureaucratic delays at the Defense Department. We need to get this fixed. Such delays deprive National Guard members of the pay they deserve, reduce their time in rank, and may pose retention problems. My bipartisan amendment, cosponsored by Reps. Kelly and Gaetz, fixes this problem, giving Guard officers their back pay, notifying Congress about excessive delays, and requiring a report recommending ways to improve the process for recognizing Guard promotions.

This isn't only a matter of fairness; it affects the readiness of the force by impacting retention. A survey by the National Guard Association received these comments: “This will have an effect on my decision to stay or go to the airlines.” Another one: “I have already lost two company-grade officers who have decided these promotion delays are a bridge too far”; and “This process is 110% ridiculous.” With this amendment, we are pleased to be able to take action to fix this particular "bridge too far."