Murkowski Fights to Protect Basic Allowance for Housing for Military Members

Introduces NDAA Amendment to Stop BAH Cuts

As the U.S. Senate debates the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced an amendment which would stop cuts and sweeping changes to the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) paid to active duty military families.

The current Senate version of the NDAA would limit the BAH payment to actual housing costs plus an allowance for utilities based on average utility costs in the community up to a capped amount. These changes would take effect in 2018 if the provision becomes law.

Current law pays BAH to servicemembers based upon a fixed formula, regardless of their actual housing or utility costs. That fixed formula is based on average community housing and utility costs, the servicemember’s rank, and whether they have dependents. If servicemembers pay less for housing they have more to spend on utilities, food, and childcare expenses under the current law.

“These proposed BAH cuts are real money for our men and women in uniform and their families—up to tens of thousands of dollars in some cases. These cuts would be devastating for married couples who serve our nation,” said Senator Murkowski. “Sadly, I hear more and more about military families utilizing food banks, because the money they receive sometimes isn’t even enough to feed their families, let alone other living expenses such as high energy costs and childcare. These cuts would just add to their financial burden.”

Murkowski’s amendment has strong support from the Military Officers Association of America, who wrote a letter (attached) praising her “continued strong support for our men and women in uniform and their families.”

Background: Over the past 15 years, Congress has worked diligently to fix shortfalls in the BAH that have forced servicemembers to pay large out-of-pocket costs for their basic housing needs. The proposed cuts in this year’s NDAA come on the heels of servicemembers being asked to contribute more towards their retirement savings, housing, and healthcare, which could also impact servicemember retention.

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