Published February 11, 2014
The Senate is poised to approve legislation reversing an estimated $6 billion in cuts to military retirees' pensions that had been a provision of the December budget deal Sen. Patty Murray, (D-Wash.), and Rep. Paul Ryan, (R-Wis.), negotiated.
"We are cautiously optimistic that things are headed in the right direction and that a bipartisan solution will be found to right this wrong," said retired Colonel Mike Barron, deputy director of government relations at MOAA, a non-profit focused on military advocacy.
The bill, written by Senator Mark Pryor, (D-Ark.), is currently going through the Senate after the House passed it, 326-90.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, (D-Nev.), is optimistic that the measure will pass.
"We are going to pass it today or tomorrow," he said on Tuesday.
The controversy over the cut, which would reduce cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) by 1% for military retirees with at least 20 years of service, has been brewing since the budget deal passed almost two months ago.
Veterans' groups estimate that the cut could amount to an average cash loss of $80,000 or more for each affected retiree -- and a loss of confidence in the integrity of the government.
There has been an outpouring of support, from both Democrats and Republicans, which Barron suggested is due, in part, to the fact that this is an election year.
"Nobody wants to be painted as someone who is trying to hurt veterans," said Colonel Barron. "And because of that, there has been a lot of momentum to repeal this harmful and unfair provision."
Senator Pryor pointed out that while the U.S. is in tough financial straits, it is essential that the government keep its word.
"We should not use these folks to balance our budget," said Senator Pryor. "Just because it's expensive -- we can't back out on the commitments made to our veterans."