Battle Lines Drawn over Commissary Funding

The fiscal 2016 defense spending bill approved Tuesday by the House Appropriations Committee would restore $322 million DOD had proposed to cut from the Defense Commissary Agency’s budget as an initial step to scaling back the federal subsidy for military grocery stores.

The cuts would force U.S. commissaries to be operated more like a business, forcing them to reduce customer discounts, as well as trim staff, store hours and the days stores are open.

The Senate Armed Services Committee, however, adopted the department’s proposal to slash funding for commissaries in its draft FY 2016 defense authorization bill, raising the chances that the two chambers will need to find a compromise when they hash out next year’s defense budget, reported Military Times.

In its defense authorization bill passed last month, the House rejected DOD’s plan to reduce commissary funding.

Senate appropriators have not yet marked up a FY 2016 defense spending bill.

The House Appropriations Committee also asked DOD to prepare a report on commissary costs. The department’s budget request asks for the authority to raise prices to cover the cost of shipping goods overseas. The additional costs would be spread across all customers, and would raise overall prices about 2 percent, DOD estimates.

The House Appropriations Committee directed DOD officials to hold off raising prices to pay for those overseas charges until 30 days after they submit the required report on commissary costs to the congressional defense committees, according to the story.

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