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Full Per Diem Rates for Long-Term Military Assignments Restored

August 2, 2018, 7:29 AM HST
* Updated August 2, 7:33 AM
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Sen. Mazie K. Hirono. File photo.

Sen. Mazie K. Hirono, the Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Service Seapower Subcommittee, ensured a full repeal of the U.S. Department of Defense’s reduced per diem policy for traveling service members and Department of Defense civilians in the Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The NDAA conference report was passed by the Senate 87-10 on Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2018, and now goes to the President for his signature.

Sen. Hirono’s full repeal will cancel a Department of Defense policy that restricted per diem rates for long-term temporary duty assignments. The enactment of this policy in 2014 impacted readiness and created hardship for traveling service members and Department of Defense civilians, including Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard employees.

“The full repeal of the Department of Defense’s per diem cuts is a significant victory for employees at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard and Department of Defense employees across the country,” Sen. Hirono said. “This repeal is long overdue, and will allow members of the military and Department of Defense civilians to continue to meet our country’s critical defense needs without facing unnecessary hardship.”

“Federal workers here in Hawai‘i and all over the nation are appreciative that Sen. Hirono successfully worked with defense authorizers in adopting bipartisan Senate language re-establishing the full per diem payments for long term travelers as a part of the final NDAA conference report,” Jamie Hiranaka, president of IFPTE Local 121 said. “Civilian workers and our military who travel for long periods of time, and spend that time away from their families while serving our nation do not deserve to have their per diems reduced. Local 121 thanks all the lawmakers that worked on this issue, including Sens. Hirono and Schatz, and Congresswoman Hanabusa, who all have worked for several years to reverse these cuts.”

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“This has been a long standing legislative priority for IFPTE and we are pleased that the Fiscal Year 2019 NDAA will include bipartisan legislative language for full reversal of the per diem cuts put in place several years ago,” Paul Shearon, IFPTE International President said. “IFPTE is appreciative of the efforts of the bipartisan group of lawmakers who have fought for this, including Sens. Hirono, Schatz, Shaheen, Collins, Kaine, Warner and Rounds as well as Representatives Kilmer, Jones and Hanabusa.”

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Sen. Hirono, with the support of IFPTE, worked to secure the full repeal of per diem cuts since the cuts were first enacted in 2014. Sen. Hirono introduced the repeal provision as an amendment to the FYI9 NDAA. Her amendment was narrowly adopted on a bipartisan 14-13 vote as the Senate Armed Services Committee considered the bill. Last year, Sen. Hirono introduced bipartisan, bicameral standalone legislation to roll back the Department of Defense policy. While she worked to gain support for the full repeal, Sen. Hirono included language in the FY17 NDAA to authorize waiver authority to ensure that employees traveling on long-term assignments could receive the full per diem rate on a temporary basis.

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