Congressional Committee Okays Merging Commissary and Exchange

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 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.


About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.
  • earl

    kate do you think the military will be affected by the debt ceiling?? Nothing is realy being said should military families be concerned? is it possible that our pay could come to a halt if august 2nd comes and goes.

    • KateKashman

      Earl, this is a very interesting question. I think it is completely possibly that the military could be affected by the debt ceiling. I haven’t done a ton of study on the subject yet, so that is not an educated or well-supported opinion. As always, I am living under my personal “prepare for the worse, hope for the best” policy. I do need to look into the subject more! Thanks for reminding me (and the other readers) to educate themselves on this issue.

  • mike

    Are we going to lose a benefit every time military members needs medical attention?

  • one who pays

    utilizing existing technology and our CAC card it could possibly save the taxpayer millions in appropriated dollars, to use the CAC card at the point of purchase for a negotiated savings with major food chains. additionally, if the taxpayer supplemented the savings for every CAC holder, it would still save the taxpayer millions. over 70% of our current commissary shoppers are those that are retired and can more afford the costs that the commissary was originally designed for, lower rank enlistees, who don’t shop the commissary anyway

  • mitt r

    cut the billions we give to israel.