Armed Services panel nixes military pension markup

Strike another blow to the committee process: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) decision to schedule a procedural vote on legislation to repeal the $6 billion military pension cut has forced the Senate Armed Services Committee to cancel its markup of the same bill.

Reid on Thursday filed cloture on the motion to proceed to Sen. Mark Pryor’s (D-Ark.) bill that would repeal the military pension cuts included in the December budget deal.

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The cloture vote will be held at 5:30 p.m. Monday — a half-hour before the Armed Services Committee had scheduled a markup of the same bill.

So on Friday, the Armed Services Committee announced its markup had been canceled.

Pryor’s bill would repeal the reduction in the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for working-age military retirees, which has come under fire from lawmakers in both parties.

The bill does not, however, include an offset to pay for repealing the $6 billion pension cuts, which makes it problematic.

While there have been a flurry of bills to reverse the COLA cuts, none of them have included an offset that can attract bipartisan support.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) has suggested Pryor’s bill should come to the floor without an offset, and then the various pay-for proposals should get amendment votes on the floor.

The House is also mulling a repeal of the pension cuts by tying the measure to a debt-ceiling increase.