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January 17, 2014

Congress took a small step this week towards repealing recently passed COLA cuts for military retirees. Both the House and Senate passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act (H. R. 3547) – an omnibus package to fund the federal government for the remainder of the fiscal year – exempts medical (Chapter 61) retirees and survivors from the COLA cuts.

A comprehensive fix could be on the way.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is planning to combine the Senate omnibus veterans’ benefits bill with a full repeal of the COLA cuts. The new bill (S. 1950) has the support of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and could be fast-tracked to the Senate floor for a vote soon.

The original veterans’ legislation (S. 944) enjoyed bipartisan support when it cleared the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee last fall.

The new bill incorporates repeal of the unfair 1 percentage point COLA reduction for working age military retirees and currently serving members established in the Balanced Budget Act.

It also addresses a number of major MOAA priorities for veterans including:

  • Extension of advance appropriations for all Dept. of Veterans Affairs accounts
  • Authorization for in-state tuition rates at public colleges for all student veterans using the new GI Bill
  • Honoring as veterans certain career Reserve members eligible for reserve retired pay
  • Authorization for Iraq and Afghanistan surviving spouses to the Post-9/11 GI Bill via the Gunnery Sgt. John D. Fry Scholarship Program
  • Retention of DIC by eligible widows who remarry at age 55
  • Improved care and services for veterans who were sexually assaulted in military service
  • Extension of VA health care enrollment opportunity for OIF-OEF veterans from 5 to 10 years
  • Renewal of the VOW to Hire Heroes Act veterans retraining assistance program
  • Requirement for more timely claims backlog reporting

 

MOAA believes Congress must reach a bipartisan solution to fully and immediately repeal COLA-cutting provision, and address critical veterans’ needs.

Please send a MOAA-supported message to your legislators asking that they support S. 1950 and urging a bipartisan funding solution when it is brought to the floor for a vote.