Senate Banking Committee leaders are asking the Government Accountability Office to look into the military base life sales allegations.[@@]

Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., the committee chairman, and Sen. Paul Sarbanes, D-Md., the ranking minority member, have asked the GAO “to research the manner in which financial products are marketed and sold to service members on U.S. military facilities.”

The request to the GAO comes as the House Financial Services Committee prepares to mark up H.R. 5011, a military base life sales bill, Sept. 29. H.R. 5011 was introduced by Rep. Max Burns, R-Ga.

The House could pass H.R. 5011 as early as Oct. 1, but the Shelby-Sarbanes GAO request might be a sign that Shelby and Sarbanes want to wait until 2005 to support Senate action on military base life sales legislation.

H.R. 5011 would impose strict disclosure rules on sales of insurance on military bases. The bill also would make it clear that military base insurance sales are under the jurisdiction of state insurance regulators.

The House Financial Services Committee held a hearing in August on the military base insurance sales issue, and Rep. Mike Oxley, R-Ohio, chairman of the committee, said Tuesday during an appearance at the annual meeting of the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, Indianapolis, that H.R. 5011 would be marked up Sept. 29.

Shelby and Sarbanes have asked that the GAO military base insurance sales report disclose “the manner in which financial products are marketed and sold to service members on U.S. military facilities.”

“We would like GAO to assess the regulatory oversight associated with the marketing and sale of financial products to service members on military installations (U.S. and abroad), and compare the regulatory oversight and consumer protections afforded to military personnel to those protections afforded to the general public,” Shelby and Sarbanes write in their letter to the GAO.

The letter also asks the GAO to assess access to financial products on U.S. military installations and, “to the extent possible, [to] assess the quality of such products.”