Wilson Opening Statement for Hearing on Military Resale Programs
Congressman Joe Wilson (SC-02), the chairman of the Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee, released the following opening statement for today’s hearing on military resale programs:
“Today, the Subcommittee on Military Personnel will conduct its second hearing on non-appropriated fund activities and will turn its attention to commissaries and exchanges—the Department Of Defense’s military resale operations.
“I believe that the commissaries and exchanges are as essential to the health of a military community and combat capability as the morale, welfare, and recreation programs that the subcommittee examined during yesterday’s hearing.
“Similarly, we also expect the exchange and commissary systems to pursue efficiency during this era of increased budget austerity because we want these operations to provide the best service and value to service members and their families.
“However, it must be recognized that the exchanges are not big consumers of appropriated dollars and calls for the exchanges to save appropriated dollars should be answered with factual justifications.
“There are analysts who are calling for more reductions in appropriated funding from the commissary system or have questioned the need for the military to operate commissaries at all.
“I believe that the Defense Commissary Agency is a model of efficiency in our government with a budget that is less than what it was 10 years ago when inflation is considered. Service member surveys consistently rate it as one of the most highly valued benefits offered by the military that delivers over 30 percent in grocery savings to families, servicemembers and veterans.
“I believe, if you eliminated the Defense Commissary Agency, you would have to invent another benefit of equal impact on retention and the chances are it would not be as effective or efficient.
“In addition to learning more about the value of exchanges and commissaries and the need to prove they are factually justified, the resale community has other challenges that we also hope to learn more about today.
“We intend to explore continuing concerns about the (1) adequacy of funding for recapitalization, (2) renewed interest in pursuing exchange consolidation, and (3) the negative impact on vendors of the 3 percent tax withholding imposed by the Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005.”