Spending deal leaves 90 percent of veteran pension cuts in place

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
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Advocates for military retirees have been pressuring lawmakers to stop the planned cuts to veterans’ pensions from going into effect this year.

But a new spending deal announced in Congress this week would leave 90 percent of those cuts in place, according to one Republican lawmaker.

“I was pleased that the House-Senate package includes a provision restoring the pensions for disabled veterans, after we called attention the fact that wounded warriors would be impacted by the budget deal,” Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee said Tuesday.

“However, the deal fails to restore pension payments for millions of active duty and retired military personnel and leaves more than 90 percent of the original reductions in place,” Sessions said. “For a currently-serving officer nearing retirement, this cut could exceed $120,000 in pension payments, reducing the cost of living adjustments by more than 60 percent.”

The budget deal brokered by Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan and Washington State Sen. Patty Murray cut what’s known as cost of living increases by 1 percentage point. Congress is expected to vote soon on a massive omnibus spending bill, which fills in the gaps of the Ryan-Murray budget agreement.

Lawmakers, including Sessions, have been pushing to restore all military benefits through cuts to other places in the budget. One idea is to close what’s known as the “tax credit loophole for illegal immigrants.”

“There are better ways for us to save these funds, such as closing the tax credit loophole for illegal immigrants,” Sessions said. “Unfortunately, Leader Reid and his conference blocked my effort to implement this fix during the budget debate in December.”

Said Sessions: “I hope the majority will allow us to make this fix and stop shielding these illicit tax payments. In order to end annual deficits all of us will have to tighten our belts, but our military personnel must not disproportionately bear the burden.”

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