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Petition Protesting Cuts In Military Housing Allowance Gains Steam

A surprise provision in the Senate’s defense bill, which cuts basic allowances for housing (BAH) payments for the junior military member in a dual-military marriage, has merited a strong petition in protest.

First created May 29, the petition has surged in popularity, growing to a total of 36,827 signatures, with 63,173 signatures needed before June 28 to meet the goal. With 100,000 signatures in hand, the White House would have to issue a response.

That response would be unlikely to favor the Senate, since last week, the Obama administration denounced the provision floated by the GOP-controlled body, saying it constitutes a “marriage penalty.” The White House also noted that since women are more likely to be of lower rank, they would bear the brunt of the reform.

The provision in the Senate bill currently ends BAH in the context of a dual-military marriage for the lower-ranking husband or wife. This applies regardless of whether there are dependents or not in the marriage. Additionally, the policy switch targets BAH recipients who share a residence with another BAH recipient. If the pay grade is E-4 and higher, the rate would drop by 25 percent.

Some think that recent tough reforms reflect a growing divide between the military and civilian population. In an op-ed for Task and Purpose, Chris Morales noted that the percentage of those in Congress who have served in the military has consistently declined, leading to the current rate of 18 percent.

This, Morales argued, could explain why representatives are so quick to propose a cut of up to $13,000 dollars of annual income for dual-military couples through changes to BAH, as well as changes proposed by GOP Rep. Paul Ryan last year. Ryan, as chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, floated the idea of cutting the military pension by as much as six figures.

At the same time, members continue to pile more demands on top of servicemembers, most notably increased military involvement against the Islamic State.

There are a total of 40,000 dual-military couples on active duty. The provision has far-reaching implications and many consider it discriminatory.

“We want to emphasize that the BAH is an earned benefit – one that every military member receives,” Mike Barron, deputy director of governmental affairs for the Military Officers Association of America, told NWF Daily News. “It’s unfair to take it away from one service member simply because he or she married another service member.”

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