The Department of Defense's (DoD) proposed rule to revise and expand the coverage of its rule implementing the Military Lending Act (MLA) may be put on hold.

The House Committee on Armed Services Subcommittee for Military Personnel recently released a proposal for the Fiscal Year 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that includes a provision requiring the DoD to provide a report answering questions concerning whether the proposed expansion (described in our prior legal alert here), is necessary, and further, whether the DoD is prepared to provide reliable data to lenders concerning a borrower's military status.

While commending the DoD's efforts to protect service members against predatory lending practices, the Subcommittee is concerned with the current rulemaking and whether it is justified from a military-readiness perspective. Accordingly, its draft NDAA directs the Secretary of Defense to provide a report by March 1, 2016, to the Committee on Armed Services of the Senate and the House of Representatives concerning any rulemaking regarding the MLA. The proposed report is to include:

  • a summary of comments on the proposed DoD rule;
  • an assessment of the impact on military readiness, if any, resulting from service member access to financial products, including payday loans, vehicle title loans, bank deposit advances, and installment loans, since the implementation of the MLA in 2007; and
  • an assessment of the adequacy of staffing levels at the Defense Manpower Data Center and the accuracy, integrity, and reliability of its database.

The draft NDAA, which the Subcommittee marked up and passed without amendment April 23, would prohibit any final rule regarding the MLA from taking effect until 60 days after the Secretary of Defense transmits the report.

A House vote on the NDAA is currently scheduled for May 15 and a full House Armed Services Committee markup scheduled for April 29.