*Legislative Update 9 October 2015: Don’t Veto the Defense Bill

We have 1 Action Item today at issue 1



Summary of Issues

At Issue 1. we see DOES A DEFENSE BILL VETO MATTER? Why would President Obama veto the defense bill? Why is MOAA urging him not to? (See Issue 1 below for the details and to send an Email to the President. GF)  


At Issue 2. we see COMMISSARY CATCH-22Cut costs without raising prices. Congress tells DoD to fix the commissary, but did lawmakers stack the deck? (See Issue 2 below for the details. GF) 

At Issue 3. we see WE WANT YOUR FEEDBACKCommissaries are constantly on the chopping block. Help MOAA better represent your interests by answering a few simple questions.. (See Issue 3 below for the details. GF) 

Collectively We Can and Are Making a Difference


FOR ALL, Please feel free to pass these Weekly Legislative Updates on to your group of Veteran Friends –

don’t be concerned with possible duplications – if your friends are as concerned as we are with Veteran issues, they probably won’t mind getting this from two or more friendly sources





October 9, 2015

On Wednesday, the Senate passed the defense bill, a few days after the House. Now it’s gone to the White House for signature.

But President Obama has said he will veto it next week. He is concerned Congress skirted statutory budget caps by adding (a much needed) $38 billion in a supplemental wartime account exempt from budget caps.

Why does the White House see that as a problem?  For one thing, the Pentagon needs funding in the baseline defense budget to make longer-term plans and commitments. A one-year supplement does not make that easy.

But the bigger political issue is that the president and many in Congress think the arbitrary budget cap is too low for non-defense programs, too. If the Pentagon is to get needed relief, they believe non-defense programs should as well.

The message of a veto is that the full funding should be in the basic defense budget, and the non-defense spending caps should be raised at the same time.

On Oct. 1, MOAA President Vice Adm. Norb Ryan, USN (Ret.) wrote the president urging against a veto. “As much as we disagree with some of the provisions,” Ryan said, “the fact is that we are still a nation at war, and this legislation is vital to fulfilling wartime requirements.”

Some concerned MOAA members have already asked, “Why not support the veto and try to get fixes to some of the things we don’t like?”

The reality is that a veto will not reopen any of the things MOAA is concerned about in the bill.

Those fights have been fought in the Armed Services committees, with compromises – sometimes grudgingly – reached in the interest of getting a bill passed. There is zero possibility of any of those things being renegotiated in a Hill environment that is focused almost exclusively on budget issues.

If the president vetoes the defense bill, the only thing that has any chance at all of being reworked is the portion of the budget that’s carried in the regular budget vs the supplemental piece. But the issue of how those changes are paid for is exactly what has Congress tied up in knots.

The worst-case veto scenario is a frustrated Congress could just eliminate the supplemental account, and pass a defense bill with $38 billion less funding.

Alternatively, the defense bill would go back into the roiling pot with the other major budget issues – raising the debt ceiling, figuring out the entire government budget, and funding it through a continuing resolution or some other measure.

MOAA is already concerned that negotiations on these political hot potatoes may still lead to a federal shutdown.

We do not want to risk losing the defense bill as well by kicking it back to what will be an even more severely divided congress due to current uncertainty in leadership.

To MOAA, the best option is to sign the defense bill with the $38 billion in contingency money now, keep the White House and Congress focused on negotiations on the already huge challenges for the remaining legislative year, and push our remaining legislative agenda in 2016.

Act now to send President Obama a MOAA-suggested message asking him not to veto the defense bill.

(Click on MOAA-suggested message here or above or go to Here is the Processat the end of this Email to send messages to the President GF)



Oct 09 2015

Published by Karen at 2:42 pm under Legislation,sequestration,Voting


By:  Jamie Naughton

In budget cutting exercises, commissaries are often easy pickings for the chopping block. Critics say the $1.4 billion Congress spends on groceries for military families could be better spent on other purposes.

The almost 12 million patrons authorized to use the commissary tell a different story. Being able to buy groceries at cost, with a five percent surcharge, can save military families big bucks. DeCA, the Defense Commissary Agency, estimates that a military family of four can save almost $3,000 a year.

This year’s defense bill calls for DoD to figure out how to make the commissary system cost neutral. The report, due in March, will look at how DoD can privatize commissaries while keeping the same level of customer savings and satisfaction. It will also look at strategically closing commissaries in markets with competing shopping options, and the willingness of commercial grocers to provide eligible commissary patrons discounts.

If cutting funding without increasing costs for consumers seem like conflicting ideas, it’s because they are. It’s unlikely that commissaries will be able to take the budget cut without passing the buck to shoppers.
“The language of the report establishes standards that are impossible to meet,” said Karen Golden, Deputy Director at MOAA.

Commissary patrons are particularly sensitive to price fluctuations. For many commissary shoppers, particularly junior enlisted members without access to off base shopping, they are literally a captive audience.

According to RAND, a consultancy, “the elimination of the appropriation, while reducing the DoD budget, comes at a cost borne primarily by those currently and formerly in the armed forces.” RAND’s findings go on to note that increasing commissary pricing may have negative effects on retention and recruitment, cuts to Morale, Well-Being, and Recreation programs, and possible changes in the calculated cost of living adjustment. (Click on RAND or RAND’s findings here or above to see the details. GF)

Previously, some national chains expressed willingness to provide discounts to military families to match commissary prices. But to date, no major retailer has made good on the offer.

After the report, DoD has the authority to launch a two year study on privatization in five of the largest stateside commissary markets.

MOAA will continue to work with Congress and make sure there are no significant changes to this critical benefit without looking at all the facts and the broad range of consequences.

We want to know what you think about the commissary. Please take a moment to take our short survey on your opinions on the commissary system. (See Issue 3 below and take the survey at the end of that article by clicking on WE WANT YOUR FEEDBACK, or click on short survey here or above to participate in the survey now. GF)

Jamie Naughton serves as Assistant Director, Government Relations



Commissaries are constantly on the chopping block.


Help MOAA better represent your interests by answering a few simple questions.

( Cick on WE WANT YOUR FEEDBACK here or above to participate in the survey if you didn’t do it at Issue 2 aboveGF)





Here is the Process:  There are some minor changes below this week and if the steps below are new to some, I recommend that you review all of the steps and then you might want to copy this process by high lighting all of the steps below.  Then click on “File” at the top of your screen, select “Print“, then click on “Selection” at the next display and then hit “Print“; or print the selected portion as you usually do this kind of task.


  1. Click here onhttp://capwiz.com/moaa/issues/ or copy and paste it in your browser to put you at the  “Legislative Action Center” screen.
  2. Scroll downunder “Current Action Alerts” and below “President” click on Tell POTUS to NOT Veto the Defense Bill”.
  3. At the next screen scroll down to the TAKE ACTION NOW! lineand enter or confirm your Zip code and /or hit “Go!”
  4. At the next screen under“COMPOSE MESSAGE” leave the recipients area checked at your discretion.
  5. Scroll down to the  “Editable text” areaand edit/modify the text of the message if desired,
  6. Insert “Your Closing” (I show ‘Respectfully), and “Your Name” and fill in the rest of the mandatory {asterisked} SENDER INFORMATION. The “Phone”number is now required by some Legislators (it’s required if your Senator is from Arizona) .
  7. Fill in the “Guest Type“, “Service“, “Rank“, “Component“, and “Status” if you want that information to show in your message (recommended).  You may be prompted to include a phone numberif you try to send the message without entering your phone number. Don’t be concerned about entering a phone number. I haven’t  received return calls except on rare occasions to thank me for my interest in a particular piece of Legislation, at which time you can comment (pro or con) to the staff member on how the Senator stands on the issue.
  8. Check “Remember Me” (recommended) if you don’t want to have to re-enter all of your Sender Information the next time you send a message. You can always change your information or uncheck ‘Remember Me’ anytime in the future.
  9. Hit “Send Message”
  10. If Printed Letter was selected at Step 4 above, at the screen after hitting “Send Message” leave “Plain Paper Style” and “Word Processor (RTF)” checked unless you have another preference. Then left click on “Print Letter(s)” at the end of the “PRINT LETTER” screen. At the File Download” alert that appears next, click on “Open”. You can then edit and print or save the letter for editing, printing, signing and mailing.





That’s it for today- Thanks for your help!