The U.S. House overwhelmingly passed a measure Tuesday to restore $6 billion in cuts to cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) to military retirees included in the budget agreement crafted by U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc.
The House passed the measure 326-90, adding it to a land-use bill proposed by U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and passed by the Senate. The Senate debated restoring the COLA funds earlier in the day, but members are not currently scheduled to vote on the matter.
Most members from the Florida delegation fell in line behind the proposal.
When the House approved the Bipartisan Budget Act, I made clear my commitment to doing all I could to restore the full cost-of-living adjustments for our military retirees, said U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla.. Thats why I am proud that a bipartisan majority of the House joined me in ensuring the federal government does right by the heroes who sacrificed so much in defense of our freedoms by eliminating the current COLA cuts.
Our veterans have given their all to our country, said U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Fla. When we originally passed the bipartisan budget agreement, I strongly opposed a provision in the bill that made changes to the retirement benefits of working-age military retirees. However, amendments to the bill were restricted so I cosponsored a separate bill to address this serious issue. I am pleased to support today a provision that should have been there all along one that provides veterans the benefits they have earned and deserve.
But 19 Republicans -- including Ryan and U.S. Rep. Rich Nugent, R-Fla. -- voted against the measure, joining 71 Democrats including U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md. Among the Democrats who voted against it from Florida were Lois Frankel, Alan Grayson, Alcee Hastings and Frederica Wilson.
Hoyer stressed Tuesday that the Democratic leadership did not whip members against the proposal and argues that the bill was undermining attempts to rein in the deficit.
This is just the latest demonstration of why we cannot achieve the kind of comprehensive deficit reduction we need by way of small, piecemeal efforts that only ask one group to contribute whether they are our nations veterans, federal employees, or anyone else, Hoyer said. Serious deficit reduction, as recommended by the bipartisan Bowles-Simpson and Rivlin-Domenici commissions, will have to require everyone to contribute and share in the burden of putting America back on a sound fiscal path.
Reach Kevin Derby at email@example.com