WASHINGTON - U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) today praised the adoption of amendment #4204 to the Senate’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2017 by a vote of 70 - 28. The Inhofe-Mikulski amendment strikes language in the Senate NDAA that would have privatized five major military commissaries.
“Our military members, their families and our veterans depend on the commissary system. Privatization at this point in time, when the impacts have not been fully assessed and evaluated by DOD and Congress, would jeopardize those benefits,” Inhofe said. “The strong, bipartisan vote in the Senate clearly demonstrates the importance of preserving the commissary and the benefits that it provides to our servicemen and women. I applaud my colleagues in the Senate for standing up for our troops, their families and our veterans.”
“I’m fighting to protect our commissaries because service members and their families deserve the benefits they’ve earned and a government on their side,” Mikulski said. “Commissaries feed our troops. They help military families stretch their budgets, and they provide jobs to military spouses, teens old enough to work, and military retirees. And commissaries are the military’s most popular earned benefit. With this bipartisan amendment, we will keep commissary doors open to provide low-cost, healthy food to our service members and their families until we’re certain there’s a better alternative.”
The DOD report titled “Plan to Obtain Budget Neutrality for Commissary and Exchange System” acknowledges that, “privatization would not be able to replicate the range of benefits, level of savings and geographic reach provided by DeCA while achieving budget neutrality.” The mandated Government Accountability Office (GAO) review of this plan is still underway.
On June 7, the White House released a Statement of Administration Policy [link] regarding commissary privatization and acknowledged that, “by requiring the Department to conduct a pilot program for privatization regardless of the interest and capabilities of private sector entities, [privatization] would place the commissary benefit at risk.”
On June 7, Inhofe spoke on the Senate floor calling for the Senate to adopt amendment #4204 to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2017, highlighting stories from military families and Oklahomans who use the commissary benefit.
Inhofe-Mikulski amendment #4204 to the NDAA had 37 cosponsors at the time of this release and the support of 42 outside organizations.