Senate appropriators on Thursday restored $322 million in funding for military grocery stores while marking up the fiscal 2016 defense spending bill, matching a similar move by their House counterparts.
The Obama administration’s budget request recommended the cut — out of a total allocation of $1.4 billion for commissaries — which would have been accommodated by reducing days of operation and operating hours, laying off staff and closing some stores, reported Military Times.
Sen. Barbara Mikulski (Md.), the committee’s top Democrat, criticized the proposal as a shortsighted idea from “Pentagon bean splicers” and said those savings should not come at the expense of military families.
“The president is wrong,” she said. “[Defense Secretary] Ash Carter is wrong on this. These are false savings,” Mikulski said.
The defense authorization bill now on the Senate floor endorsed the commissary cuts called for in the administration’s budget request, however, setting up a possible showdown before next year’s defense budget is completed.
The Senate Appropriations Committee voted 27-3 to pass the $575.9 billion defense spending bill and set up a battle next week when Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) tries to bring the bill to the floor. Democrats are planning to block the legislation from advancing.