AUSA Opposes Commissary Cuts

Monday, April 20, 2015

he Association of the U.S. Army is a co-signer of a letter to Congress opposing proposed cuts in funding for commissaries.

 Along with other members of the Coalition to Save our Military Shopping Benefits, the association is asking Congress to reject a Defense Department proposal that would cut $322 million in commissary funding in fiscal year 2016. That reduction is the first installment of a $1 billion reduction proposed over five years. 

“The Pentagon’s budget cuts will destroy the commissary benefit, which is cherished and valued by millions of military personnel and their families,” the letter says. The cuts “will severely impact young families and fixed-income retirees, and will eliminate much-needed jobs for the military community.” 

Ninety percent of the military community uses commissaries, the letter says, providing a savings estimated at 30 percent for shoppers. Commissaries already have been reducing costs, eliminating 6,600 employees, closing 40 percent of its stores and reducing annual operating costs by about $700 million, the letter says. 

The letter is signed by the American Logistics Association, the Armed Forces Marketing Council, National Industries for The Blind, and 18 military and veterans organizations. It is addressed to leaders of the House and Senate Armed Services committees. These panels are now considering the Defense Department’s 2016 budget request. 

The letter bemoans the fact the Defense Department keeps asking for cuts that Congress keeps rejecting. When Congress rejected a similar proposal last year, lawmakers asked for a report about the impact of funding reductions. That report isn’t due until September. 

A similar letter from a federal employee union was sent in March to the leaders of the congressional committees responsible for military personnel policy. The American Federation of Government Employees said the cut in commissary funding “is a badly disguised attempt to put the commissaries into a death spiral.”  That could happen, the union argued, because reduced funding would force commissaries to reduce hours and days of operation, resulting in some patrons going elsewhere to do their shopping.