With Congress at an impasse on budget cuts, it seems likely that a military budget won't be formed by November. Still, despite the threat of drastic slashes, President Barack Obama spoke to reporters recently to assure servicemembers and their families they will not lose pay or benefits, The Associated Press reports.
Obama made his remarks speaking to news outlets from areas of the country that have a strong military family presence including San Diego and Virginia. If lawmakers are unable to broker a deal, the Armed Forces would face $500 billion in cuts over the next decade, something which could have a significant impact.
"It could affect how many ships we can build, it could affect our force structure in fairly significant ways, it can have an impact in terms of our ability to respond to a wide range of challenges that could happen simultaneously in some instances," Obama told San Diego's KNSD.
While recognizing that Congress does not always act in a timely matter, Obama said he maintains hope legislators will be able to reach a compromise in the next three months. Still, although the deadline is months off, there are some members of the military community who have already felt the ramifications.
The children of servicemembers are feeling the sting because of how the U.S. Department of Education allocates funds to schools that have large military populations. Specifically, because the schools aren't built on private land and instead reside on military bases, they can't help finance the school's budget through property taxes. As a result, there are fewer textbooks, supplies and teachers, among other necessities.
"Parents are worried about losing transportation for their child. They're concerned about the [teacher-student] ratio in classrooms," Carl James, chief operations officer of the York County School Division in eastern Virginia, told Reuters.
Given the toll it's already taken on military children, it's not hard to imagine that the across-the-board cuts, known as sequestration, could hurt military families as well, according to Senator Tom Harkin. He singled out reductions in Impact Aid, which provides grants to 1,000 school districts that need assistance.
So how can legislators avoid catastrophe? According to Obama, both sides need to make concessions. Democrats will have to accept greater spending cuts while Republicans will have to concede revenue increases, the President told The Virginian-Pilot.