June 04, 2015
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) today introduced an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would prevent the Department of Defense (DOD) from privatizing commissaries at five major installations next year and instead require the DOD to first conduct an assessment for the purpose of reporting to Congress the potential costs and benefits of privatizing commissaries. The following members cosponsored the amendment at the time of introduction: Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Mark Warner (D-Va.) , Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Robert Casey (D-Pa.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).
“Our commissaries are the most utilized service by our nation’s military members and their families,” said Inhofe. “When surveyed last year, 95 percent of service members were accessing the commissaries in order to purchase household goods to achieve needed savings in their family budgets. The Senate NDAA would begin the process of privatizing the commissaries without a proper assessment of the impacts of reforming this popular benefit, which is currently saving military families money. This is unfortunate, because once a commissary is privatized, it will be nearly impossible for such an action to be reversed if the results negatively impact our military members’ budgets and way of life. By privatizing commissaries at five installations next year, it starts the domino effect for all the others across the nation. Also of concern, the legislation ignores recommendations made by the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission in January. My amendment would put the brakes on privatizing the commissaries, and first request an assessment be completed and reported to Congress before any further action is taken.”
“The commissary is one of the most important tools we have to support and promote the health and well-being of our military families in this country,” said Mikulski. “At a time when thousands of junior troops and families use food stamps, it’s wrong to make changes that could increase costs at the checkout line. These families face enough stress. Before we make drastic changes like privatizing commissaries, we need to fully evaluate what it would mean for our military families. I want to keep commissary doors open to provide low-cost, high-quality, healthy food to our service members and their families until we’re certain there’s a better alternative.”
On June 3, the White House issued a statement of administration policy that stated the administration’s concern with commissary privatization. The statement highlighted an independent study is currently under way on this issue, and the administration requested that any action to privatize the commissaries is delayed until the report is completed and the results are available for consideration.
The following organizations are opposed to the privatization language currently in the bill: