Levin backs Pentagon proposals to cut benefits

Sen. Carl LevinCarl Milton LevinListen, learn and lead: Congressional newcomers should leave the extremist tactics at home House Democrats poised to set a dangerous precedent with president’s tax returns The Hill's 12:30 Report — Sponsored by Delta Air Lines — White House to 'temporarily reinstate' Acosta's press pass after judge issues order | Graham to take over Judiciary panel | Hand recount for Florida Senate race MORE (D-Mich.) said Wednesday he’ll work to save the Pentagon’s proposals to cut health and housing benefits for armed services members and their families.

“There’s a few issues that are really important to our military leaders, including the Joint Chiefs, I’m going to keep fighting for,” the retiring chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee said.

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Lawmakers are working on a defense policy bill. The Pentagon wants the legislation to include measures that would boost out-of-pocket fees for Tricare, the health plan for military families, and require service members to kick in for up to six percent of their housing.

The House ditched those suggestions in the bill it approved in May, but the Senate draft bill includes them.

The House and Senate Armed Services panels are now informally conferencing their bills in the hope of sending final legislation to both chambers for a vote.

Levin defended the proposals to reduce troop benefits, arguing they are backed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff as a way to reduce Pentagon spending.

“They want very badly to take these small steps. They came in front of us, they argued very persuasively that we should do it,” he said. “I’m going to keep arguing that we should listen to the Joints Chief on this.”