Pentagon Won’t Push Changes in Veterans Retirement in Budget Request

But Defense officials said no final decisions have been made about changes to how military personnel get paid.

Levin: No-fly needs partners.
National Journal
Jordain Carney
Jan. 28, 2014, 6:56 a.m.

The De­fense De­part­ment won’t pro­pose any re­tire­ment changes dur­ing its 2015 fisc­al year budget re­quest, De­fense of­fi­cials said Tues­day.

“We won’t pro­pose any­thing on re­tire­ment be­ne­fits in 2015, we are wait­ing for and work­ing with the com­mis­sion,” said Christine Fox, the act­ing deputy De­fense sec­ret­ary at a Sen­ate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee hear­ing, when asked about po­ten­tial changes in the up­com­ing budget re­quest.

The Mil­it­ary Com­pens­a­tion and Re­tire­ment Mod­ern­iz­a­tion Com­mis­sion will turn in a re­port by Feb­ru­ary 2015 that will re­com­mend changes to the mil­it­ary’s com­pens­a­tion and re­tire­ment struc­ture. The re­port was sup­posed to be turned in by May, but the Na­tion­al De­fense Au­thor­iz­a­tion Act passed last year ex­ten­ded the com­mis­sion’s dead­line.

Ad­mir­al James “Sandy” Win­nefeld, vice chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, agreed with Fox, adding that any changes to re­tire­ment should in­clude a “hol­ist­ic” ap­proach, that he said the com­mis­sion is tak­ing.

A pro­vi­sion in the budget agree­ment that cut mil­it­ary pen­sions for work­ing-age re­tir­ees gained quick back­lash by mem­bers of Con­gress in both parties. It in­cluded a 1 per­cent cut to cost-of-liv­ing ad­just­ments over 10 years, sav­ing the De­fense De­part­ment ap­prox­im­ately $6 bil­lion.

Mem­bers of Con­gress re­stored the COLA fund­ing for med­ic­ally-re­tired mil­it­ary vet­er­ans un­der the om­ni­bus bill, but that is less than a tenth of the total fund­ing.

Fox said that no De­fense De­part­ment of­fi­cials were con­sul­ted on the de­cision to in­clude the COLA cuts as part of the budget agree­ment. And that if the rest of the fund­ing isn’t re­stored, the De­fense De­part­ment would push for cur­rent ser­vice mem­bers and re­tir­ees to be grand­fathered in so they would be ex­empt from the cuts. Any changes made by the com­mis­sion next year would also in­clude grand­fath­er­ing.

Both Re­pub­lic­an and Demo­crat­ic sen­at­ors on the com­mit­tee pre­dicted that the full fund­ing would be re­stored quickly. Chair­man Carl Lev­in said he ex­pects the com­mit­tee “will have the abil­ity to act promptly” on a bill.

A pro­pos­al by Sen­at­ors Mark Pry­or and Kay Hagan has been re­ferred to the Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee. It does not in­clude an off­set. The Demo­crat­ic duo’s bill is one of more than a dozen pro­pos­als that have been in­tro­duced to re­store the fund­ing. Many re­com­mend pay­ing for the fund­ing with polit­ic­ally po­lar­iz­ing is­sues that will make the le­gis­la­tion prac­tic­ally im­possible to pass.

Sen. Ro­ger Wick­er warned against delay­ing restor­ing the funds, adding that without quick ac­tion “it holds the po­ten­tial that it will be like se­quest­ra­tion, and go in­to ef­fect des­pite every­one’s prot­est­a­tions to the con­trary.”

And De­fense of­fi­cials hes­it­ated to dic­tate when Con­gress should re­store the fund­ing, with Win­nefeld say­ing “the tim­ing is com­pletely up to the Con­gress,” as long as the 1-per­cent cut “is not taken off the table per­man­ently for the com­mis­sion.”

What We're Following See More »
STAFF PICKS
What the Current Crop of Candidates Could Learn from JFK
2 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”

Source:
STAFF PICKS
Maher Weighs in on Bernie, Trump and Palin
2 days ago
WHY WE CARE

“We haven’t seen a true leftist since FDR, so many millions are coming out of the woodwork to vote for Bernie Sanders; he is the Occupy movement now come to life in the political arena.” So says Bill Maher in his Hollywood Reporter cover story (more a stream-of-consciousness riff than an essay, actually). Conservative states may never vote for a socialist in the general election, but “this stuff has never been on the table, and these voters have never been activated.” Maher saves most of his bile for Donald Trump and Sarah Palin, writing that by nominating Palin as vice president “John McCain is the one who opened the Book of the Dead and let the monsters out.” And Trump is picking up where Palin left off.

Source:
×