The full committee portion of the fiscal 2015 defense authorization bill rejects most of the Obama administration’s proposed reforms to military benefits, including plans to slash subsidies for commissaries and slow increases in the basic allowance for housing.
The chairman’s mark rejects other cost-saving reforms in the Pentagon’s FY 2015 budget as well, including plans to retire the Navy’s 11th aircraft carrier and to hold a new BRAC round in 2017.
The legislation, however, embraces in part the Air Force’s proposal to retire its fleet of A-10 close air support aircraft. The annual defense policy bill calls for the Warthogs to be stored in a way that allows them to be quickly returned to service if the budget allows, reported the Hill.
Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) sharply criticized the administration’s proposal to scale back military benefits.
“In the FY15 budget request, the president proposed his most sweeping compensation cuts to date, including TRICARE, housing allowances and commissary benefits. When combined with a reduction in the annual troop pay increase, these cuts result in thousands of dollars of additional out-of-pocket expenses for military families,” according to the committee’s summary of the draft legislation.
“Chairman McKeon categorically rejects these cuts,” the document states. “He continues to believe military compensation reform should be addressed comprehensively and should be informed by the recommendations” of a commission currently reviewing compensation and benefits.
The mark, however, retains half of the department’s proposed $200 million cut in the annual direct subsidy to military grocery stores since there may be ways to find savings in commissary operations that don’t require raising prices, the committee states. The measure requires DOD to work with outside experts in retail grocery sales to find ways for the military commissary system to become more efficient.
The full committee is scheduled to mark up the authorization bill Wednesday. The draft legislation is available on the committee website.