The chairmen of the House and Senate Armed Services committees on Tuesday said they plan to build on the cost-savings reforms to military compensation in the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill when they put together next year’s defense policy legislation.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, called growing military personnel costs “one of our greatest challenges” in coming years, saying that “we’re going to have to make some tough decisions” soon, reported Army Times.
McCain and Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), his House counterpart, spoke at a Brookings Institution event about this year’s authorization bill, which would trim the basic allowance for housing over the next four years, add co-pays for some military drug prescriptions, require a study of ways to operate commissaries without federal support and overhaul the traditional, 20-year military retirement system.
Thornberry said work on overhauling military health care will begin shortly. “Tricare reform is going to be a key focus because access to care is not what it should be,” Thornberry told reporters after the event.
Much of the discussion focused on President Obama’s anticipated veto of the authorization bill over its inclusion of $38 billion in DOD’s overseas contingency operations account, which is not subject to the Budget Control Act spending caps. McCain and Thornberry urged Obama to sign the measure and address his concerns over the spending caps in the appropriations process.
Later in the day, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate President Pro Tempore Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) signed the authorization bill before sending it to the president’s desk, reported the Hill. Obama has 10 days, not including Sundays, to veto the measure, or it will become law.