Lawmaker: Congress crying 'crocodile tears' over military pension cuts

Rep. Richard Nugent (R-Fla.) criticized Congress over the weekend by saying members are talking about restoring a $6 billion cut to military pensions, but aren't doing anything to actually restore those benefits.

"I voted against the budget deal because it dramatically cut the pensions of all retired military men and women under the age of 62," Nugent wrote on his website Sunday about the budget deal that passed in December. "To make matters worse, in my opinion, the same people who negotiated that budget deal spent the days following its passage shedding crocodile tears and vowing to 'fix' their mistake."

ADVERTISEMENT
Nugent said when Congress had a chance to fix that mistake, it didn't. Instead, it restored $600 million for disabled veterans, but left roughly $5.6 billion in pension cuts for other veterans.

"I voted against the appropriations bill for the same reason I voted against the budget deal," he said. "In my opinion, I don't think having a bunch of us politicians stand up and tell the troops, 'We owe you a debt that can never be repaid,' and then turn around and take away the pension offer we promised them is sending the right message."

He said pension cuts for new military recruits may be in order, but said Congress should not cut benefits to people who were already promised certain retirement benefits.

"In the end, on this one, it was a matter of principle," he wrote. "I couldn't honestly cast a vote that said, 'This is the best we can do here.' "

A Senate aide said the Senate could consider legislation as early as next week that would restore the cuts. Language in a bill from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) would restore the cuts and fund other veterans programs.

However, the aide said there are still questions about how to find funding to restore those pensions.