House Republicans revive effort to stop vet benefit cuts by closing tax credit loophole

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Alabama Republican Rep. Martha Roby and Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick are attempting to revive an effort to prevent cuts to military retirement benefits by closing a loophole that has allowed illegal immigrants to unlawfully obtain welfare benefits.

Earlier this week during Senate debate on the two-year budget deal — which cuts military pensions by $6 billion over 10 years — Senate Democrats foiled Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions’ attempt to halt the cuts by closing the same loophole.

The loophole in question allows tax filers without a Social Security number to claim Additional Child Tax Credits by filing returns with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, a policy the Treasury inspector general for tax administration reported cost taxpayers $4.2 billion in 2010.

While Senate Republicans were unable to prevent the cuts to military retirement benefits contained in the budget deal brokered by Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, concerns remain about the House- and Senate-passed cuts.

Thursday, Fitzpatrick and Roby introduced a companion to Session’s amendment, which would close the loophole by requiring people to have a Social Security number to obtain Additional Child Tax Credits and halt the cuts to military retirement benefits.

“We need to make this right. In the coming weeks, we will try to use our position of strength in the House majority to improve upon the budget agreement and better prioritize our budget savings,” Roby said, commending Sessions’ earlier effort and adding that she spoke to House leadership this morning to highlight the proposal.

Fitzpatrick and Roby’s bill currently has 45 co-sponsors — including one Democrat, Rep. John Barrow from Georgia.

“The non-partisan Joint Tax Commission reported last year that by closing the loophole for fraudulent payments, the taxpayer could save nearly $7 billion over 10 years,” Fitzpatrick said. “That’s enough to remove the need to make any changes to military benefits.”

One GOP aide added that the hope is to push Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Democrats in the right direction.

“Hopefully Ryan will join with conservatives to change the Ryan-Murray plan and put pressure squarely on the shoulders of Harry Reid and his loyal band of Senate Democrats to make this right,” the aide said.

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