Jeff Sessions: Budget Deal 'Fix' Still Slashes More than 90% of Vets' Pensions
Senate Budget Committee ranking member Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) announced Tuesday that the “fix” Washington politicians developed to stop cuts to veterans’ pensions actually still slashes pensions for more than 90 percent of retired members of America’s armed forces.
Millions of men and women who put their lives on the line for this country are still going to see reductions in their pensions, while illegal aliens still have access to a tax credit loophole, Sessions said in his statement.
It was discovered in December that the budget deal House Budget Committee chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) cut with Senate Budget Committee chairwoman Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) cuts the pensions of all military veterans by slashing that program by $6 billion. Ryan’s committee had originally claimed in a document distributed to House members and the public that the cuts would not affect disabled or injured veterans, a claim that was later scrubbed from the document without notifying House members of the change. That edit was made two days before the House voted to pass the Ryan-Murray budget deal, which means Ryan knew the cuts would affect wounded warriors when the House voted to pass it.
Later, under intense criticism, Murray and Ryan both admitted that such cuts were a “mistake,” but Ryan argued that all other veterans’ pensions–for those who were not injured or disabled during their service–should still be cut. Ryan’s push to cut veterans’ pensions runs crosswise with efforts from many other House Republicans, like House Oversight Committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), Reps. Martha Roby (R-AL), Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Ted Poe (R-TX), and many others who introduced various plans to undo them.
Roby and Fitzpatrick together introduced a bill that would restore all veterans’ pensions, not just those for wounded warriors, offsetting those cuts with the closing of a loophole in the tax code that allows illegal aliens to access the Refundable Child Tax Credit. Their bill is a House version of an amendment that Sen. Sessions attempted to offer during the budget fight on the Senate floor in December, but was blocked from doing so by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Democrats.
“I was pleased that the House-Senate package includes a provision restoring the pensions for disabled veterans, after we called attention to the fact that wounded warriors would be impacted by the budget deal,” Sessions said about the omnibus spending package from House Appropriations Committee chairman Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY) and Senate Appropriations Committee chairwoman Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD). “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. 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.”
Sessions said the Rogers-Mikulski omnibus spending package, which is the second stage of the Ryan-Murray budget deal, should have spent this money in a better way.
“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. 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.”