Sens. Warner & Chambliss Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Protect Military Families from Proposed Commissary Cuts
~ Legislation prohibits cuts to commissaries until nonpartisan review issues recommendations in 2015 ~
Mar 05 2014
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) introduced bipartisan legislation to prohibit the Pentagon’s proposed funding cut for military commissaries in the President’s Fiscal Year 2015 budget. The FY2015 Department of Defense (DoD) Budget calls for reducing the annual subsidy for these military stores by $1 billion, or almost 70%, by 2017. Sen. Warner and Sen. Chambliss’ Military Commissary Sustainment Act would prohibit this reduction in funding until after the nonpartisan Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission, which is working on a comprehensive set of recommendations on military pay and benefits, issues its final report in February 2015.
“These cuts to commissaries are an unfair burden on many of our military men and women,” Sen. Warner said. “Especially for young military families, retirees, and reservists who are trying to make their tight budgets work, these cuts represent real money -- as much as $3,000 in grocery savings per year. A nonpartisan commission already is reviewing the value of commissaries in the context of overall military pay and benefits, and I think it is reasonable to wait for the commission’s report recommendations before making arbitrary cuts like this one.”
“I am proud to cosponsor this legislation with Senator Warner to prevent these cuts to commissaries which come at the expense of our service members, veterans and their families on the home front,” said Sen. Chambliss. “Many Georgians have served with honor in our military, and those who put their lives in harm’s way in defense of this nation should not be disproportionately targeted as a result of excessive government spending.”
Blue Star Families’ 2013 Military Family Lifestyle Survey revealed that commissary services were rated as the DoD program with the highest satisfaction level among America’s military families. In addition, the Senior Enlisted Advisors of each military service recently testified on Capitol Hill that commissary cuts would be especially damaging to young enlisted service members and their families. Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force James Cody testified that for “those young men and women who are right on the edge [financially], that 30 percent savings is significant,” and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Michael Barrett said, “I personally think it’s ridiculous that we’re going after something that saves a young lance corporal $4,500 a year.”
Virginia is home to one of the country’s largest military and veteran populations, and Sen. Warner’s record in the Senate and as Virginia Governor demonstrates a commitment to honoring their service. Earlier this week, Sens. Warner and Tim Kaine (D-VA) sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel expressing concerns about the effect on military families of TRICARE's reimbursement policy excluding coverage for certain laboratory tests. And in February, Sen. Warner and Sen. Tim Kaine introduced worked together to successfully replace a cost of living adjustment (COLA) reduction for military retirees included in the recent bipartisan budget agreement.