MAZON Calls Out Senator Jim Inhofe’s “Skinny NDAA,” Urges Congress Not to Pass a “Hungry NDAA”

November 7, 2019


~Standing Strong on Feeding Military Families is a “Must-Have Priority” in Nation’s Defense Bill~

WASHINGTON, DC (November 7, 2019) – MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger condemns the so-called “Skinny NDAA” proposed by Senate Armed Services Committee Chair Jim Inhofe (R-OK) to authorize “critical” military operations and compensation. The incredibly shrinking bill is a pared-down version of previously proposed 2020 National Defense Authorization Act measures and falls short by not prioritizing food security for military service members and their families.

While Chairman Inhofe claims that his “Skinny NDAA” is proposed so the committee can continue to negotiate the terms of the military spending package, MAZON’s stance is clear: Ensuring that our nation’s military personnel are food secure is not a political matter and should be a national priority. Any version of the NDAA that does not include the Military Family Basic Needs Allowance provision and fails to address the long-overlooked yet urgent issue of hunger and food insecurity among military service members should be considered the “Hungry NDAA” and quickly rejected.

The Military Family Basic Needs Allowance is a bipartisan provision that was included in the House NDAA and championed by Representatives Susan Davis (D-CA) and Don Young (R-AK At-Large), along with Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). This provision would provide a modest and targeted supplement to base pay for all service members whose household income is at or below 130 percent of the federal poverty level, ensuring that military personnel are able to provide basic needs for their family members, including food, and can be spared from unnecessary anxiety associated with hunger and food insecurity.

Abby J. Leibman, President and CEO of MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger stated, “We urge the Senate Armed Services Committee leadership to prioritize this issue in the 2020 NDAA. Failure to do so leaves struggling military families behind the enemy lines of hunger and is unacceptable.

“Pentagon officials and Congressional leaders are quick to point out the harm caused to our military from the uncertainty that comes with each Continuing Resolution of short-term government funding, yet they perpetuate painful anxiety and uncertainty faced by thousands of military families by not providing them with the resources they need to take care of their basic needs. To support optimal mission readiness for our troops, we must ensure that they have what they need to put food on the table and take care of the essentials for their families.

“We are proud to have worked closely with the National Military Family Association, Congresswoman Susan Davis, and Senator Tammy Duckworth in designing the Military Family Basic Needs Allowance to address the persistent challenge of food insecurity experienced by military families nationwide. We need Chairman James Inhofe (R-OK), Ranking Member Jack Reed (D-RI), and members of the Subcommittee on Personnel: Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Martha McSally (R-AZ), Rick Scott (R-FL), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) to stop looking the other way as military families struggle needlessly. Congress needs to make the Military Family Basic Needs Allowance a cornerstone of the NDAA.

“We must never turn our backs on the tens of thousands of military families who struggle to put food on the table. Any NDAA bill that does not include the Military Family Basic Needs Allowance is unacceptable and leaves our military and our country weaker and hungrier than before. We must ensure that no one goes hungry while they or their family members serve in our armed forces. Our military families deserve better than a Hungry NDAA bill.”