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Public Statements

Letter to Members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Rep. Brad Miller and other lawmakers sent a letter today to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, also known as the Super Committee, urging members to avoid making any major cuts that would affect the commissary and exchange systems for U.S. military families.

The Committee, charged with delivering a deficit-reduction proposal to the Congressional Budget Office, is considering reducing a federal subsidy for the exchanges that would effectively be a significant pay cut for U.S. military personnel.

Military families save on average more than 30 percent by shopping at commissaries and more than 20 percent by shopping at exchanges. For the $1.5 billion spent annually on commissaries and exchanges, military families save about $5.6 billion. The exchanges also generate approximately $300 million in earnings which provide dividends to support Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) programs for service members and their families.

"Creating more of a hardship for our military families is not the answer to trimming the budget," Rep. Miller said. "We are already asking for plenty from them."

In the letter, lawmakers ask that the Committee maintain the federal subsidy for commissaries and oppose any attempts to consolidate commissaries and exchanges into a single system.

In addition, the letter reminds Committee members that many military families are based in locations where there are either limited or no other options to purchase food and household items. Commissaries and exchanges are their only source for these types of purchases.

Dear Members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction:

As you consider proposals to reduce the deficit, we ask that you maintain the federal subsidy for military commissaries and oppose any calls to consolidate commissaries and exchanges into a single system.

By law, commissaries can only charge consumers 5 percent more than the item costs to stock the shelves. As a result, military families save on average more than 30 percent on their grocery bill by shopping at commissaries. This arrangement works because the cost to operate commissaries is paid by a federal subsidy.

Military families also save more than 20 percent by shopping at military exchanges. For the $1.5 million spent annually on commissaries and exchanges, military families save $5.6 billion. The exchanges also generate approximately $300 million in earnings which provides dividends to support Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) programs for service members and their families.

Finally, many military families are based in locations where there are either limited or no other options to purchase food and household items. Commissaries and exchanges are their only source for these types of purchases.

The commissary and exchange systems make good financial sense. For ever dollar spent to support military resale, the systems generate nearly $4 in benefits. We ask that you maintain the federal subsidy that allows for these benefit savings and oppose any calls to consolidate the commissaries and exchanges into a single system. Reducing those subsidies would effectively be a significant pay cut for our military families.

We appreciate your attention to this important issue and look forward to working with you as you prepare your deficit reduction plan.

Sincerely,

Brad Miller
Trent Franks
Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan


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