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
History Already Being Less Kind to Hastert’s Leadership
1 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

In light of his recent confessions, the speakership of Dennis Hastert is being judged far more harshly. The New York Times' Carl Hulse notes that in hindsight, Hastert now "fares poorly" on a number of fronts, from his handling of the Mark Foley page scandal to "an explosion" of earmarks to the weakening of committee chairmen. "Even his namesake Hastert rule—the informal standard that no legislation should be brought to a vote without the support of a majority of the majority — has come to be seen as a structural barrier to compromise."

Source:
‘STARTING FROM ZERO’
Trump Ill Prepared for General Election
1 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Even if "[t]he Republican presidential nomination may be in his sights ... Trump has so far ignored vital preparations needed for a quick and effective transition to the general election. The New York businessman has collected little information about tens of millions of voters he needs to turn out in the fall. He's sent few people to battleground states compared with likely Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, accumulated little if any research on her, and taken no steps to build a network capable of raising the roughly $1 billion needed to run a modern-day general election campaign."

Source:
27TH AMENDMENT
Congress Can’t Seem Not to Pay Itself
4 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

Rep. Dave Young can't even refuse his own paycheck. The Iowa Republican is trying to make a point that if Congress can't pass a budget (it's already missed the April 15 deadline) then it shouldn't be paid. But, he's been informed, the 27th Amendment prohibits him from refusing his own pay. "Young’s efforts to dock his own pay, however, are duck soup compared to his larger goal: docking the pay of every lawmaker when Congress drops the budget ball." His bill to stiff his colleagues has only mustered the support of three of them. Another bill, sponsored by Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN), has about three dozen co-sponsors.

Source:
THE QUESTION
How Far Away from Cleveland is the California GOP Staying?
5 hours ago
THE ANSWER

Sixty miles away, in Sandusky, Ohio. "We're pretty bitter about that," said Harmeet Dhillon, vice chairwoman of the California Republican Party. "It sucks to be California, we're like the ugly stepchild. They need us for our cash and our donors, they don't need us for anything else."

ATTORNEY MAY RELEASE THEM ANYWAY
SCOTUS Will Not Allow ‘DC Madam’ Phone Records to Be Released
5 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

Anyone looking forward to seeing some boldfaced names on the client list of the late Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the "DC Madam," will have to wait a little longer. "The Supreme Court announced Monday it would not intervene to allow" the release of her phone records, "despite one of her former attorneys claiming the records are “very relevant” to the presidential election. Though he has repeatedly threatened to release the records if courts do not modify a 2007 restraining order, Montgomery Blair Sibley tells U.S. News he’s not quite sure what he now will do."

Source:
×