Warner, Kaine introduce amendment to block commissary privatization

congressU.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine have introduced an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would prevent the Department of Defense (DoD) from privatizing commissaries at five major installations until a study, requested in last year’s NDAA, to assess the costs and benefits of privatization is completed and properly taken into consideration by Congress.

“It would be imprudent for Congress to authorize this privatization of commissaries – possibly jeopardizing an important benefit for our military men and women, their families, as well as retired servicemembers – before receiving the thorough study on the potential impacts as requested in last year’s NDAA,” said Warner and Kaine.

The following Senators joined Warner and Kaine in introducing the amendment: U.S. Sens. John Boozman (R-AR), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Richard Burr (R-NC), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Bob Casey (D-PA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Dean Heller (R-NV), Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), James Lankford (R-OK), Edward Markey (D-MA), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Patty Murray (D-WA), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Jon Tester (D-MT), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Tom Udall (D-NM), David Vitter (R-LA), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).

The Senate’s NDAA for Fiscal Year 2016, as passed out of committee on May 14, 2015, included language that sought to launch a pilot program to begin the privatization of military commissaries at five locations. Specifically, the amendment:

  • Required a study on the impact privatizing commissaries would have on military families before a pilot program could be implemented and would look at modifications to the commissary system, common business processes, privatization in whole or in part, analysis of different pricing constructs and impacts on MWR programs.
  • Required a comptroller-general assessment of the plan no later than 120 days after the report is submitted.

The amendment was adopted on the Senate floor and included in the final NDAA signed into law by the President last year.

The requested study is currently underway but has not been completed at the time of this press release. This year’s amendment would block language in the Senate bill that, once again, seeks to begin the process of privatization, and would restrict any such action until completion of the study and thorough review by Congress.

The following 43 organizations are opposed to the privatization language currently in the bill:

  • Air Force Sergeants Association
  • American Federation of Government Employees
  • American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations Teamsters
  • American Legion
  • American Logistics Association
  • American Military Retirees Association
  • American Military Society
  • American Retirees Association
  • American Veterans
  • Armed Forces Marketing Council
  • Army and Navy Union
  • Association of the United States Army
  • Association of the United States Navy
  • Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States
  • Fleet Reserve Association
  • Gold Star Widows
  • International Brotherhood of Teamsters
  • Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America
  • Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America
  • Military Officers Association of America
  • Military Order of Foreign Wars
  • Military Order of the Purple Heart
  • National Association for Uniformed Services
  • National Defense Committee
  • National Guard Association of the United States
  • National Industries for the Blind
  • National Military Family Association
  • National Military and Veterans Alliance
  • Naval Enlisted Reserve Association
  • Military Partners and Families Coalition
  • Reserve Officer Association
  • Society of Military Widows
  • The American Military Partner Association
  • The Coalition to Save Our Military Shopping Benefits
  • The Flag and General Officers Network
  • The Retired Enlisted Association
  • Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors
  • Uniformed Services Disabled Retirees
  • United States Army Warrant Officers Association
  • Veterans of Foreign Wars
  • Vietnam Veterans of America

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