A House Armed Services Committee’s (HASC) Subcommittee has rejected Department of Defense (DoD) proposals to cut or adjust a number of military personnel benefits.
The president’s FY2015 DoD budget request included proposals to: reduce the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) over five years to provide 95 percent of housing expenses; cut $1 billion ($1.4 billion to $400 million) from the annual commissary subsidy over the next three years; and modernize and consolidate TRICARE programs for retirees under age 65, including some TRICARE co-pay increases.
The HASC Military Personnel Subcommittee, marking up its portion of the FY2015 Defense Authorization bill today, denied these administration proposals. The subcommittee press release stated it “rejects proposals that would have increased out-of-pocket costs for military families.” Subcommittee chair Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) underscored this rejection in his summary remarks in the markup. The HASC has generally rebuffed annual efforts by the administration to make changes to military personnel benefits in order to cut costs and ease budget constraints.
In addition, the subcommittee mark prohibits the restructuring of Military Treatment Facilities until DoD reports on the methodology for identifying facilities losing capacity under such restructuring and the General Accountability Office (GAO) examines the methodology.
The subcommittee also includes language requiring DoD to review the commissary program using “an independent organization experienced in grocery retail analysis.” This review should identify alternatives (such as variable pricing, more private label products, cutting second destination funding, and converting the commissary system to a non-appropriated fund activity) to produce cost savings.
The subcommittee did not address the proposed 1 percent military pay raise in its mark. The pay raise issue will likely be brought up when the full HASC considers the entire bill next week.
All six HASC subcommittees will complete their markup tomorrow. The full HASC is scheduled to take up the full FY2015 Defense Authorization bill on May 7.