Many of you have contacted me through email, letters, Facebook, or by calling my office regarding the bipartisan budget agreement.
On December 12, 2013, the House of Representatives passed the bipartisan budget agreement reached between Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen. Patty Murray by a vote of 332-94. I joined the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and the Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee in helping to pass this legislation because it will provide the Department of Defense with more than $30 billion in sequester relief over the next two-year period -- allowing them to enhance our defense readiness.
However, like any major bill, there were provisions I opposed. Specifically, I opposed the changes in this bill made to the retirement benefits of working-age Military retirees (younger than 62 years old).
Unfortunately, amendments to the budget agreement were restricted which is why my colleagues and I immediately joined together following its passage to introduce legislation that would prevent any reductions to COLAs attached to all military retirement payments brought about by the bipartisan budget agreement. I also cosponsored legislation that would exempt all veterans who medically retire, those who receive Combat Related Specialty Compensation (CRSC), and those who receive Concurrent Receipt Pay (CRDP) from any changes brought about by the bipartisan budget agreement.
Although I will urge my colleagues to help me pass these measures immediately, the changes included in the bipartisan budget agreement are still delayed from taking effect until January of 2016. That means before these changes are ever implemented, Congress will have significant opportunities to find the savings generated by this provision in other areas of the budget.
For instance, there is a Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission (http://www.mcrmc.gov/index.php/about) required to report by May 1, 2014.
Congress will have an opportunity to use recommendations from this report, or consider policy options of our own, to address the rising costs of Military compensation in alternative ways -- over the course of the following two years - before the changes contained in the budget compromise are ever implemented.
However, in the end I supported the budget agreement because it was our last chance to prevent the full impact of the national security threatening sequester cuts that would harm our safety and the well-being of our men and women serving in areas of conflict across the globe. It would also reduce the deficit by $23 billion, did not raise taxes, and will help prevent a government shutdown in the future.