House Votes to Restore Military Retiree Pension Benefits

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The House has voted overwhelmingly to restore full cost of living increases to pension benefits for younger military retirees.

Lawmakers were responding to election-year pressure from veterans groups. The Senate is debating a similar bill, as lawmakers try to reverse course on the most controversial cut contained in budget legislation that was approved less than two months ago.

At issue is retirement income for veterans with at least 20 years of military service. More than 800,000 of those retirees who are under age 62 would have been affected by a provision that would hold annual cost-of-living benefits to a level one percentage point below the rate of inflation.

Critics said it would mean a reduction of nearly $72,000 in benefits over a lifetime for a sergeant first class who retires at age 42.
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Representative Martha Roby (R-AL) today hailed passage of a plan to reverse cuts to military retiree pensions and restore the cost-of-living increases promised to those who have served.

"This country made promises to our men and women in uniform, and we must keep those promises," Rep. Roby said. "Today the House voted to right a wrong and restore the promised cost-of-living pension increases for military retirees.

"For the last several weeks, we have been exploring ways to get this done. I am pleased the final House plan reverses the cuts and pays for it through alternative spending reductions going forward."

In December, Congress passed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013, which aimed to set a sustainable path for federal spending over the next two years. Part of the savings came from reducing the percentage of the cost-of-living increases given to military retirees.

Since then, Rep. Roby and colleagues have endeavored to change that unfair provision and find budget savings elsewhere. She first co-sponsored a bill to repeal the military pension cut in the budget agreement and replace it with savings from closing a loophole in the Refundable Child Tax Credit. Most recently, she explored the possibility of including a military pension fix in debt negotiations.

The final plan restores the cost-of-living pension increases for current retirees while enacting reforms that reduce mandatory spending through 2024. The House passed the measure by a vote of 326 to 90.

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