Military families and veterans have been patiently waiting for Congress to fix a small problem they caused back in December when they passed the Bi-Partisan Budget Act of 2013. Not only did they fail to renew unemployment benefits, but they also cut COLA on military pensions. The cuts, though small to the overall federal budget, are huge to the individual pocket books of those who have served their country; as much as $80,000 to $120,000 will be lost over time to each of these families.
The uproar that ensued has guaranteed that both Representatives and Senators have started to say the right thing. More than 100 Representatives have co-sponsored HR 3790 and HR 3804, identical bills that are a straight repeal of the cuts with no offset. And, yes, Republicans are a large part of the support of HR 3790. But rumor has it that it will never make it to a vote in the House Armed Services Committee nor the floor because Speaker John Boehner has openly said he does not support restoring full pensions. Welcome to our Democracy.
In fact, some are so insistent that this will be fixed, they wonder why military families and veterans are still making a fuss:
“You guys have already won,” Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe, ranking Republican, assured military association leaders who testified against the recent devaluation of military retirement as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act.Let me tell you why we continue to demand an immediate fix.
Military families and veterans have been placing their bets on a different bill, one that offers not only a fix for military retirees but other solutions for many veterans issues. That would be Senator Bernie Sander's S 1950. Senator Harry Reid has placed it on the fast track and yesterday we read that the bill would be ready for a vote on the floor of the Senate on Monday.
But Republicans are already lining up in opposition:
Let me tell you a little something about this offset the Republicans seem so concerned about. It is a funding measure that Congress agreed upon years ago - it was a specific answer to a specific problem. Congress couldn't agree on a way to pay for two wars but they knew they had to find some solution. It was the Overseas Contingency Operations fund and it allowed Congress to pay for two wars for more than 12 years without ever having to find an actual way to pay for the wars. That's right - it is borrowed money. It was a work around and it has enabled Congress to spend funds that did not exist for more than 12 years.The GOP alternative is being led by panel ranking member Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C) as Republicans are balking at the way Sanders would pay for his $24 billion measure.“I don’t think that’s a real offset,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told reporters. “Because we’re withdrawing from Iraq [and Afghanistan], we’re not going to spend the money, so getting credit for money you don’t spend is not an offset.”Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) agreed. “I’d rather have a bill that we can pay for,” he said.Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the top Republican on the Armed Services Committee, said he was only opposed because of the offset.Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) raised concerns about the funding issue, but said he also had problems with some of the provisions in the legislation.Read more: http://thehill.com/...
Well isn't it just like a conservative Republican to agree to that kind of spending deficit as long as it pays for war?
But now that Senator Sanders wants to use that same funding to support the very veterans that fought those two wars? Well, veterans aren't that special to Republicans. Only war is that special. Welcome to the hypocrisy.
Unless Senator Reid allows amendments on S. 1950, the bill is unlikely to see 60 votes. But lets just follow that path for a moment. What happens when Republicans add amendments? I will guarantee that Senator Cruz will offer an offset that cuts from Obamacare. End of story. What other poison pill is needed to stop any legislation from getting through the Senate? It's as good as a filibuster.
So let's go back to Senator Inhofe who has told us that we have already won. I have one word: Bullshit.
We haven't won anything until this faulty, dirty, little piece of legislation is repealed.