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Hirono, Rounds, Kilmer, Jones Introduce Bill to Cut Red Tape for Defense Department Employees

Senator Mazie K. Hirono and Senator Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, introduced a bipartisan, bicameral bill to repeal burdensome Department of Defense requirements for service members and civilian employees. The bill would correct a Department of Defense rules that increase the burden of finding affordable lodging while on assignment for individual employees rather than the department or service making the assignment.  

“Military members and Department of Defense civilians should not have to worry about potential financial burdens and red tape related to travel away from home,” said Senator Hirono. “This commonsense legislation will continue to allow Department of Defense employees in Hawaii and around the world to do their jobs without jumping through unnecessary hoops.”

“Our service members and their families make incredible sacrifices to keep us safe,” said Senator Rounds. “They shouldn’t be faced with unnecessary stress or financial burdens when a service member is on a temporary assignment that could last for months. Our legislation would make sure no active duty service member would be denied reimbursements for off-base housing expenses when they are on long-term temporary duty. It is but one small step we can take to improve the quality of life for the men and women who are selflessly defending our country.  This measure will support service members and their families serving at Ellsworth Air Force Base and Joe Foss Field as well as South Dakotans serving in our armed forces around the world.” 

Representatives Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.) and Walter Jones (R-N.C.) introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

“Those who serve and the civilian workers who support them shouldn’t have to bear a financial burden when they travel in support of military missions,” said Representative Kilmer. “It’s not right to nickel-and-dime these folks or undermine their ability to get decent lodging.  Our bipartisan legislation would ensure that we can lighten the load on these men and women operating on behalf of our nation’s security.” 

“We are very pleased that Senator Hirono continues to work toward a complete repeal of the damaging and misguided per diem cuts for DOD civilian and military travelers,” said Jamie Hiranaka, President of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers Local 121. “These are dedicated employees of the DOD who travel for extended periods of time and work long hours each day, while being thousands of miles away from their families. They should not have to worry about finding resources to buy food and other essentials, and are entitled to decent lodging.  Senator Hirono realizes this and we thank her for introducing this bill, and are hopeful we can fully repeal this damaging policy in this year's NDAA.”

“The American Hotel & Lodging Association once again thanks Senator Hirono for her continued leadership and strong support of the travel industry, including her work to maintain sensible federal travel per diem policies. We strongly support the bi-partisan legislation she and Senator Rounds have introduced to roll back drastic cuts to per diem rates put in place by the Department of Defense. Though we understand the Department's desire to save taxpayer money, these cuts have caused operational difficulties for certain portions of the military, imposed burdens on military personnel and civilian workers, and made it difficult for hotels catering to military bases to provide adequate services to Defense Department travelers,” said American Hotel and Lodging Association Vice President Craig Kalkut.