Government Shutdown Puts Congress Between Soldiers and Their Groceries

With government in gridlock, military commissaries close for lack of funding.

A U.S. soldier shops at the Bagram Base in Afghanistan.
National Journal
Tom DeFrank
Oct. 3, 2013, 10:13 a.m.

Amer­ica’s sol­diers may be earn­ing their pay dur­ing the gov­ern­ment-shut­down show­down, but they aren’t able to buy gro­cer­ies at mil­it­ary com­mis­sar­ies.

All 175 com­mis­sar­ies in 46 states and the Dis­trict of Columbia were closed in­def­in­itely on Wed­nes­day, a De­fense Com­mis­sary Agency spokes­man con­firmed.

“We are closed un­til the gov­ern­ment shut­down is re­solved,” DECA me­dia spe­cial­ist Kev­in Robin­son said.

The com­mis­sar­ies are mil­it­ary gro­cery stores that sell food items to sol­diers, re­tir­ees, and their fam­il­ies at cost plus a mod­est sur­charge. Pat­rons save about 30 per­cent on their food bills com­pared with com­mer­cial gro­cer­ies; little won­der the com­mis­sary be­ne­fit is con­sist­ently rated the most pop­u­lar perk of mil­it­ary ser­vice in cus­tom­er sur­veys.

Sixty-eight com­mis­sar­ies in 12 coun­tries, Pu­erto Rico, and Guam will re­main open, however.

Iron­ic­ally, many pat­rons of shuttered do­mest­ic com­mis­sar­ies are fam­ily mem­bers of a “spon­sor” serving in Afgh­anistan, the Horn of Africa, and oth­er hot spots. They’re strug­gling to make ends meet at home alone, and their gro­cery bill just surged.

“You can be sure a lot of those House Re­pub­lic­ans will start hear­ing from their mil­it­ary con­stitu­ents about this,” one locked-out com­mis­sary pat­ron fumed.

Many com­mis­sar­ies are loc­ated at bases throughout the South in con­gres­sion­al dis­tricts rep­res­en­ted by many House GOP law­makers adam­antly op­posed to fund­ing the gov­ern­ment un­less Obama­care is de­fun­ded or delayed.

Mil­it­ary fam­il­ies plainly saw the crunch com­ing, however, and pre­pared for the shut­down as they might have in ad­vance of a hur­ricane — by blitz­ing com­mis­sar­ies and clean­ing off store shelves.

Total com­mis­sary sales for the last day the com­mis­sar­ies were open totaled $30.6 mil­lion, more than double the nor­mal daily volume, and the top sales day in 13 years.

What We're Following See More »
PROCEDURES NOT FOLLOWED
Trump Not on Ballot in Minnesota
1 days ago
THE LATEST
MOB RULE?
Trump on Immigration: ‘I Don’t Know, You Tell Me’
1 days ago
THE LATEST

Perhaps Donald Trump can take a plebiscite to solve this whole messy immigration thing. At a Fox News town hall with Sean Hannity last night, Trump essentially admitted he's "stumped," turning to the audience and asking: “Can we go through a process or do you think they have to get out? Tell me, I mean, I don’t know, you tell me.”

Source:
BIG CHANGE FROM WHEN HE SELF-FINANCED
Trump Enriching His Businesses with Donor Money
3 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Donald Trump "nearly quintupled the monthly rent his presidential campaign pays for its headquarters at Trump Tower to $169,758 in July, when he was raising funds from donors, compared with March, when he was self-funding his campaign." A campaign spokesman "said the increased office space was needed to accommodate an anticipated increase in employees," but the campaign's paid staff has actually dipped by about 25 since March. The campaign has also paid his golf courses and restaurants about $260,000 since mid-May.

Source:
QUESTIONS OVER IMMIGRATION POLICY
Trump Cancels Rallies
3 days ago
THE LATEST

Donald Trump probably isn't taking seriously John Oliver's suggestion that he quit the race. But he has canceled or rescheduled rallies amid questions over his stance on immigration. Trump rescheduled a speech on the topic that he was set to give later this week. Plus, he's also nixed planned rallies in Oregon and Las Vegas this month.

Source:
‘STRATEGY AND MESSAGING’
Sean Hannity Is Also Advising Trump
4 days ago
THE LATEST

Donald Trump's Fox News brain trust keeps growing. After it was revealed that former Fox chief Roger Ailes is informally advising Trump on debate preparation, host Sean Hannity admitted over the weekend that he's also advising Trump on "strategy and messaging." He told the New York Times: “I’m not hiding the fact that I want Donald Trump to be the next president of the United States. I never claimed to be a journalist.”

Source:
×