President Obama is holding off on endorsing controversial recommendations by a blue-ribbon panel to reform the military retirement and healthcare systems.
“I believe there is merit in all of these recommendations and that they deserve careful consideration and study. I will ensure that the Congress is kept apprised of this ongoing work,” the president said Thursday in a letter to Congress.
The president said a recommendation to reform the retirement system needed more study, given its complexity.
The panel recommended moving from a system that only pays retirement benefits to troops serving at least 20 years to a blended system that would also allow troops serving at least two years to invest in a 401(k)-type plan.
Some veteran groups oppose the recommendation, because it could reduce the overall retirement payments of those who serve 20 years and affect the retention of troops. It would also require financial advising for troops.
The president’s statement, however, comes just hours after the House Armed Services Committee passed its annual defense policy bill adopting the recommendation. It is unclear whether it will be stripped from a final bill, which will receive a vote from the full House and be combined with the Senate’s version later this year.
The president also held off on endorsing another recommendation to reform the military healthcare system, known as Tricare. The panel recommended moving troops’ families onto commercial plans and giving them allowances for healthcare.