The commissioning bill (H.R. 608) originally found strong support in the House of Representative, and was tacked onto the FY 1993 DOD bill. The DOD bill, with H.R. 608 going along for the ride, passed in the House by a vote of 198-168.
Next, the Senate Manpower and Personnel Subcommittee of the Senate Armed Forces Committee, chaired by Sen. John Glenn (D-OH), met to consider the DOD bill. At the end of May, Senator Glenn acknowledge his support of commissioning DCs in the military, and his subcommittee accepted the DOD bill, chiropractic and all.
The action of the Manpower Subcommittee capped nearly two years of both highly visible and often behind-the-scenes efforts to win support for the chiropractic commissioning bill in the Senate, according to Dr. Kurt Hegetschweiler, chairman of the ACA's Legislative Committee.
Beginning July 22 and concluding July 24, the full Senate Armed Services Committee, chaired by Senator Sam Nunn (D-GA), affirmed the decision of Senator Glenn's Manpower Subcommittee to approved the DOD bill.
"With the Armed Services Committee action behind us, we have now successfully passed our major hurdle in the Senate," said ACA legislative strategist Mark Goodin. "This action paves the way for full Senate approval and subsequent agreement on the proposal by the House and Senate conferees -- greatly increasing the likelihood of final congressional approval of the initiative in this session of Congress."
According to officials in the ACA's Department of Governmental Relations, other members of the Manpower Subcommittee who played important roles in advancing the initiative were Senators John McCain (R-AZ), ranking member of the subcommittee and Ted Kennedy (D-MA). At the full committee level, both Chairman Nunn and soon-to-be ranking minority member Thurmond helped win approval of the measure.
"Denying our dedicated service members access to chiropractic care, which is otherwise widely available in our society, is an unfair and outdated policy, said Senator Thurmond. "Doctors of chiropractic are just as qualified in their area of expertise as any other medical professionals now accorded commissioned officer status." Senator Thurmond expressed his pleasure that the other members of the Armed Services Committee "agree with me that chiropractors should have an opportunity to be commissioned in the military if they wish."
Although prospects for final congressional approval now appear quite favorable, the legislation must get by the full Senate and a House/Senate conference designed to work out differences between the two DOD Authorization bills.
One remaining concern is whether or not the total legislative package will, for reasons not related to the chiropractic portion, provoke a presidential veto which could delay the enactment of the legislation.
In its present form, the House version of the DOD Authorization bill, which substantially reduces military spending below limits requested by the Bush Administration, is reportedly a strong candidate for a veto. The Senate and House will need to agree on a substantial compromise regarding the more controversial elements of the House bill if the DOD bill is to survive.
You may direct letters of support to your Senator at the following address:
The Honorable (Name of Senator)
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510
Editor's Note: The issue of commissioning DCs in the military has never gone this far in the legislative process. The lobbying efforts of the ACA and ICA have reaped marvelous results. But the influence of the many letters from individual DCs to their representatives cannot be underestimated. Now is not the time to relax and admire the accomplishments of the profession, but to redouble the letter writing campaign to you Senators. Remember, the full Senate has yet to vote on the DOD bill; further, we must encourage the chiropractic commissioning portion of the bill be retained as part of the DOD bill.