Lawmakers want military benefits restored

Several bills have been introduced in the House this week that would restore cuts made to military retirees’ benefits.

Lawmakers have complained that a provision in the Bipartisan Budget Agreement, H.J. Res. 59 — which was passed into law last week — reduces the cost of living adjustment (COLA) by 1 percent for military retirees under the age of 62.

The reduction was made to replace $6 billion in sequester cuts to the Department of Defense’s budget.

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Rep. Julia Brownley (D-Calif.) introduced H.R. 3804, which would completely repeal that provision.

“I believe our service members, veterans, and their families must receive the benefits they have earned and deserve,” Brownley said. “These benefits are owed to them without equivocation. That is why I have introduced legislation to repeal the military retiree COLA reduction.”

Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) introduced a similar bill, H.R. 3807.

Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.), who drafted the deal with her House counterpart Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), said lawmakers would work to at least fix a “technical glitch” that also cut the benefits for veterans with disabilities.

House Budget Committee ranking member Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) took Murray’s words to heart and introduced H.R. 3808, which would provide that the annual adjustment of military retiree benefits under the Bipartisan Budget Act shall not apply to service members retired for disability and to retired pay used to compute certain Survivor Benefit Plan annuities.

All the bills were introduced before the House passed an adjournment resolution Thursday. Lawmakers will return early next month to begin legislative work.