Let me start by saying that not everything that is approved by a congressional committee actually happens. There are a few more steps in the “I’m Just A Bill ” process. However, that doesn’t mean that this isn’t important, for a variety of reasons.
As reported in this Military.com story , and also at SpouseBUZZ, the Senate Veteran’s Affairs Committee voted in favor of consolidating military retail shopping facilities. In this time of extremely tight budgets, lawmakers have been forced to find dollar-for-dollar cuts to match each new expenditure. The commissary-exchange drawdown was proposed to offset the costs incurred by new legislation to pay for medical costs that have come as the result of contaminated water at Camp Lejeune (from 1957 to 1987).
In the immediate future, it is not likely that this proposal will become law. It would need to pass the Senate (and possibly at least one other committee), the House, and then be signed into law. Opposition from military lobbying organizations is expected to be stiff and vocal. However, if you want to voice your opinions on the matter, you can do so by contacting your elected representatives. The bill is Senate Bill 277, the Caring for Camp Lejeune Veterans Act (S 277).
I think the truly important part of this bill isn’t that it will or will not pass, this time. The fact that the issue has been proposed, several times now, is worrying. Experience tells us that things are often suggested several times before they actually make it through Congress and become law. I don’t want to say it is inevitable, because that would be bad for the military and because it isn’t true, but I do think that commissary benefits will continue to be targeted in the future. As our country faces extremely difficult financial times, every benefit is going to be closely scrutinized. I’m sure there are plenty of lawmakers who think that the commissary benefit is not “that” important in the greater scheme of things. We’ll have to keep our eyes on this subject, for I’m sure we’ve not heard the last of it.