Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America founder Paul Rieckhoff told Fox News’ Megyn Kelly on the The Kelly File that the budget deal House Budget Committee chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) cut with Senate Budget Committee chairwoman Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) is a “total betrayal” to American military members.
On Wednesday evening, the House voted to pass the second part of the budget deal–an omnibus spending bill drafted by House Appropriations Committee chairman Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY) and Senate Appropriations Committee chairwoman Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD). That bill is expected to pass the Senate soon, after which President Barack Obama will sign it into law.
In December, the Ryan-Murray budget deal passed the House, then the Senate and was signed by Obama before the end of the year. The December budget deal legislation is a broad budget outline while this bill that just passed the House from Rogers and Mikulski allots money program-by-program and agency-by-agency–more than a trillion dollars in spending government-wide.
Rieckhoff said the deal is a “whole new level of bipartisan stupidity,” because it cuts the pension benefits of more than 90 percent of military veterans. While the omnibus bill restores the pension cuts that the original budget deal had taken out for wounded warriors and disabled and injured veterans, it cuts the pensions of all other military veterans.
“It’s a promise that’s been made with our military folks when they raised their right hand and they sign up,” Rieckhoff said of the deal’s military pension cuts. “Somebody in Washington came up with this stupid idea to try and find some money to save and they are going to do it on the backs of retirees from the military? It’s absolutely absurd.”
Ryan’s House Budget Committee published a document when he introduced the deal with Murray in December that falsely stated disabled veterans’ pensions were exempt from the cuts. Two full days before the House voted the plan through, Ryan scrubbed that document of that false claim and then republished the document without telling House members he rectified the false claim. Ryan knew the deal contained those cuts for all veterans’ pensions, including those of wounded warriors, two full days before the House voted on it.
After the House vote, and while the Senate debated the bill, public pressure mounted on the veteran pension cuts, forcing Ryan and Murray to both admit the cuts specifically to wounded warriors’ pensions were a “mistake.” They vowed to rectify that “mistake” by exempting disabled and injured veterans but keeping the cuts in place for the rest of veterans–something that has been done via the omnibus spending bill from Rogers and Mikulski.
But Rieckhoff argued on Fox News that veterans should not have their pensions cut when other government over-spending is happening. “Find the money somewhere else,” Rieckhoff said. “You mean to tell me in the entire Defense budget they can’t find somewhere else to make outside of the retirement benefits of folks who have served sometimes eight, nine tours?”
Several plans were introduced in the House that would have offset the cuts to all veterans’ pensions with cuts to various different forms of government waste. Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX), for instance, introduced a bill that would offset restoring veterans’ pensions with cuts to foreign aid. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) also introduced his own bill that would offset restoring the cuts with U.S. Postal Service reforms.
The most significant House bill was offered by Reps. Martha Roby (R-AL) and Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA), one that would have closed a tax code loophole that lets illegal aliens access the Refundable Child Tax Credit. It would have offset the veterans’ pension cuts with closing that loophole, which the Treasury Department’s Inspector General decried in a scathing report all the way back in 2011.
Part of the reason why House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) would not allow a vote on a plan–especially the Roby-Fitzpatrick plan–to restore the cuts Ryan made to veterans is because it may interfere with their upcoming planned push for amnesty. By admitting that the very illegal aliens Boehner, Cantor, Ryan and other GOP establishment figures want to grant amnesty to actually currently abuse American taxpayers by illicitly accessing the Refundable Child Tax Credit, they could undercut any momentum they hope to create with their forthcoming “principles” for amnesty.