WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Ranking Member of the Senate Budget Committee, issued the following statement today regarding the military pension provision in the omnibus:
“I was pleased that the House-Senate package includes a provision restoring the pensions for disabled veterans, after we called attention to the fact that wounded warriors would be impacted by the budget deal. However, the deal fails to restore pension payments for millions of active duty and retired military personnel and leaves more than 90 percent of the original reductions in place. For a currently-serving officer nearing retirement, this cut could exceed $120,000 in pension payments, reducing the cost-of-living adjustments by more than 60 percent.
There are better ways for us to save these funds, such as closing the tax credit loophole for illegal immigrants. Unfortunately, Leader Reid and his conference blocked my effort to implement this fix during the budget debate in December. I hope the majority will allow us to make this fix and stop shielding these illicit tax payments. In order to end annual deficits all of us will have to tighten our belts, but our military personnel must not disproportionately bear the burden.”
In December, Budget Committee GOP staff discovered that the Ryan-Murray spending agreement contained a provision to reduce pension cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) for current and future military retirees, while exempting current civilian employees from the same treatment. It was later found that wounded warriors and deceased servicemembers’ survivors were also subject to the cuts, contrary to what had originally been asserted. In response to this discovery, Ranking Member Sessions initiated a procedural vote on the Senate floor to “unfill the tree” of amendments that Majority Leader Reid has repeatedly used to block out other Senators from offering changes—establishing a new precedent and tool for minority Senators to protect their rights.