Griffin Works to Restore Veterans’ COLA, Cosponsors Key Bills

Dec 19, 2013 Issues: Veterans

WASHINGTON – Congressman Tim Griffin (AR-02) made the following statement after cosponsoring key bills calling for elimination of cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) reductions for military retirees:

“The military retiree COLA reduction of one percent was negotiated as part of the Ryan-Murray budget agreement to accompany the requirement that federal civilian employees increase their pension contributions to 4.4 percent.  This agreement is essential to avoiding more government shutdowns, the last of which exacted numerous hardships on our veterans and servicemembers throughout the country, especially at Camp Robinson and Little Rock Air Force Base.  Fortunately, no changes will occur to COLAs for military retirees for the next two years, providing Congress with ample time and opportunity to ensure the concerns of our veterans will be addressed long before scheduled implementation in two years.  If I had been given the chance to remove this provision from the Ryan-Murray budget agreement, I would have; however, unfortunately, no amendments were permitted, and it was a strict up or down vote on the bill. 

“Today, I joined my colleagues in taking the first step to avoid these harmful cuts to our military retirees by becoming an original cosponsor of key bills offered by House Veterans’ Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-FL) to restore full COLA benefits for veterans and their families.  Spending cuts that burden our veterans and servicemembers are not the way to get our federal spending under control, and we must address the true drivers of our debt and deficit, including reforms to Social Security and Medicare for those not currently enrolled in these programs.  I will continue to work with my colleagues to ensure that Congress addresses excessive government spending without placing an undue burden on our veterans, servicemembers, and their families.” 

Today, Rep. Griffin became an original cosponsor of 3 bills to eliminate or modify the budget agreement provisions that affect military retirees’ COLA. 

The first bill, introduced by Chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL), would eliminate the provision and ensure that no changes are made to military retirees’ COLA. 

The second bill, introduced by Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA), would eliminate the COLA reduction and replace those savings by closing a loophole that allows undocumented immigrants to qualify for child tax credits by requiring the claimants of the credits to provide their Social Security numbers.  

The third bill, also introduced by Rep. Jeff Miller, would exempt medically retired veterans and surviving spouses from the COLA reduction.    

The Ryan-Murray budget agreement that is expected to be signed into law by the President today contained a provision that would restrict the annual pay adjustment of military pensions for working-age military retirees (retirees under the age of 62) to one percentage point less than the rise in the Consumer Price Index (CPI).  Under the provision, there will be no alteration to the 2014 COLA and the COLA reduction would take effect on December 1, 2015, for working-age retirees.  This means the reduction would be implemented for retirement pay checks for the following month, January 2016.  At age 62, the retired pay would be adjusted as if the COLA had been the full CPI adjustment in all previous years, and the service members would receive the full COLA from then on. Service members would never see a reduction in benefits from one year to the next and it will save approximately $6 billion over ten years.  There is currently no exemption for veterans who are medically retired.  However, there are no changes made to disability-compensation benefits and no changes that would impact their VA-provided medical care.  This provision correlated with increases in payment requirements for federal civilian employees to their pension program by 1.3 percent for workers hired after December 31, 2013, to a total of 4.4 percent for these new federal employees.    

 

About Congressman Tim Griffin

Congressman Tim Griffin was re-elected as the 24th representative of Arkansas’s Second Congressional District on November 6, 2012.  For the 113th Congress, he is a member of the House Committee on Ways and Means while also serving as an Assistant Whip for the majority.  In the 112th Congress, he served as a member of the House Armed Services Committee, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and the House Committee on the Judiciary.

Griffin is a graduate of Hendrix College in Conway and Tulane Law School in New Orleans, and attended graduate school at Oxford University.  He has served in the U.S. Army Reserve for 17 years, was deployed to Iraq and holds the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.  He also served as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas and Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of Political Affairs for President George W. Bush.  Griffin lives in Little Rock with his wife Elizabeth and their two children.

Griffin’s congressional offices are located in Little Rock, Conway and Washington, and are open from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. CT, except for federal holidays.  Office locations and directions are available online at www.Griffin.house.gov, by phone (501) 324-5941 or by writing the Office of Congressman Tim Griffin, 1232 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20515

 

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