Representative Edward J. Markey (D-Mass), the dean of the Massachusetts Congressional Delegation, issued the following statement after voting for H.R 5987, The Seniors Protection Act, a bill to provide 54 million America seniors with a one-time payment of $250 given that there will be no automatic Cost-of-Living-Adjustment for America's seniors in 2011. The legislation was brought to the floor under an expedited procedure normally used for noncontroversial measures, but which require a two-thirds majority for passage. When House Republicans voted against the bill, it was defeated, notwithstanding the fact that it received 254 yes votes and only 153 noes.
"Republicans are standing in the way of payments that are urgently needed by millions of seniors, veterans and people with disabilities living in these tough economic times. For many, Social Security is the main income they rely upon to pay their bills and live in dignity," said Rep. Markey.
"Republicans in Congress want to give holiday tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans while leaving seniors out in the cold with nothing but a lump of coal. Instead of helping to secure our seniors' futures, Republicans are threatening to privatize and cut Social Security benefits, just as they tried to do under President Bush. It is time for Republicans to support Democrats in passing this critical legislation to help some of our most vulnerable citizens as we continue our economic recovery."
According to an analysis prepared by the House of Representatives' Committee on Ways and Means, roughly 1.1 million people in Massachusetts and nearly 120,000 people in the Seventh District receive a Social Security benefit, almost 17% of the entire population.
Social Security benefit levels are modest -- in Massachusetts 7th District the average recipient gets around $1,100 dollars a month. The median income for senior households nationally is just $24,000, reflecting just how much Social Security means to most elderly Americans. Six in ten seniors rely on Social Security for more than half of their income, and about a third of retirees have little other than Social Security on which to live.