House GOP: We’re Still Taking Care of Military Pension Cuts

The House will take up the measure separately from the debt ceiling Tuesday night.

Cadets of The United States Military Academy prepare to take their seats for a graduation and commissioning ceremony May 26, 2012 in West Point, New York.
National Journal
Sarah Mimms
Feb. 11, 2014, 5:59 a.m.

Though House Re­pub­lic­ans have settled on a clean debt-ceil­ing meas­ure, they will move for­ward with a plan to re­verse cuts to mil­it­ary pen­sions sep­ar­ately, ac­cord­ing to a seni­or aide.

The House will take up le­gis­la­tion Tues­day night to re­verse the pen­sion cuts, in or­der to al­low mem­bers to leave be­fore a snowstorm hits the Wash­ing­ton area on Wed­nes­day.

The meas­ure will off­set the $6 bil­lion cost of main­tain­ing the cur­rent COLA pro­gram for mil­it­ary re­tir­ees by adding an ad­di­tion­al year of man­dat­ory se­quest­ra­tion cuts. Those cuts will come in 2024.

The COLA fix was ori­gin­ally slated to be at­tached to the debt ceil­ing, but after hear­ing the com­plaints of their mem­ber­ship at a closed-door meet­ing Monday night and whip­ping the meas­ure over the last 24 hours, lead­er­ship de­cided to split up the two votes.

Though mem­bers of both parties widely fa­vor a fix for the pen­sion cuts, which were in­cluded in last Decem­ber’s budget agree­ment, Demo­crats had in­dic­ated that they would ac­cept only a clean debt-ceil­ing vote.

Minor­ity Whip Steny Hoy­er said Tues­day that he hadn’t coun­ted the Demo­crat­ic votes for the COLA meas­ure be­cause he had just heard about it, but noted that he would per­son­ally op­pose the meas­ure be­cause of the off­set. “I think the se­quester is bad policy,” Hoy­er said.

However, a ma­jor­ity of House Demo­crats voted for the budget deal in Decem­ber, which ex­ten­ded the man­dat­ory se­quester for an ad­di­tion­al two years, a sign that the caucus as a whole may sup­port the off­set.

The Sen­ate, mean­while, is likely to fa­vor the COLA le­gis­la­tion as well. The cham­ber is cur­rently look­ing at sev­er­al op­tions to re­verse the cuts and a clo­ture vote on le­gis­la­tion that was not paid for passed on a shock­ing 94-0 vote Monday.

The move by House Re­pub­lic­an lead­er­ship to pur­sue the pen­sion re­versal is a blow for Budget Chair­man Paul Ry­an, who pushed for the cuts in last Decem­ber’s budget ne­go­ti­ations.

This post has been up­dated to re­flect a chance in the House sched­ule, due to a pending snowstorm.

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