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Hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee - Recent Changes to the U.S. Military Retirement System

Hearing

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Senator VITTER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Thank you both for your service. Certainly I want to express strong support for fixing this problem absolutely as soon as possible as well. I voted against the budget deal in December and this issue was the single biggest reason why. So we need to get it fixed.

And I want to express strong support for fixing it in a way that doesn't increase the deficit in any way. That would be doing through two steps what the huge majority of us vowed absolutely not to do. So that would be a failure as well. So I'm very hopeful we'll get this done.

I just have one question for both of you. This provision essentially treated folks in uniform fundamentally differently and worse than Federal civilian employees, all other Federal civilian employees. It sort of penalized them, if you will, retroactively on this
issue, while the changes made for all other Federal employees was prospectively only. Do you think there is any justification for that different treatment?

Admiral WINNEFELD. I think it was surprising. I don't think that the vast majority of our force actually thought that through. They weren't aware, I think. It was really just the CPI Minus One piece itself that registered with them. But it is definitely a difference.

Ms. FOX. Sir, I think again that's why we support grandfathering and believe that you have to look forward. Maybe there's a change; whatever change that is, it's for new people coming in.

Senator VITTER. Well, great. Well, I'm glad most of them don't realize it. But my description unfortunately is accurate and it's the fact of it, and I just want to underscore that I think that's fundamentally wrong and inappropriate.

Thank you.

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Senator VITTER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thanks to all of you for your testimony and for your service and for the work of your organizations that is very important.

Certainly, I'm committed with the others to fixing this absolutely as soon as possible, in a responsible way, which certainly includes finding other real and not fake savings.

I wanted to just use my time briefly to highlight another smaller issue, but an important issue, that hopefully can be fixed at the same time. At the urging of me and others, it is already in some of the bills to fix this COLA issue. That is a problem created when CBO changed their scoring rules with regard to VA clinics and how they were scored and worked into the budget.

Not to get into the weeds, but out of the blue CBO changed the rules. It made it far more ""expensive,'' quote unquote, to get these important community-based clinics built, because it scored much more up front. I've been working for well over a year to try to get the VA to respond to this and to put solutions up. Unfortunately, they have not been responsive in a positive way. But many of us on Capitol Hill have been and the House passed a bill that would appropriately deal with this scoring issue so that these clinics are built. 27 clinics immediately slowed down and impacted nationwide, including 2 in Louisiana which should have been already built but for a separate screw-up and delay by the VA.

This House bill has passed 346 to 1. It's very fiscally responsible.

It deals with the issue. And at the urging of me and others, this provision is already included in some of the bills dealing with this COLA issue, including the Sanders bill.

So I just urge you all to also put that near the middle of your radar, and I urge my colleagues to get this pretty simple, should be noncontroversial, fix done so we move forward as we had been planning to with these VA community-based clinics. I believe it can and should be done at the same time, which is immediately, as this COLA issue.

Thank you. If you have any response to that, I'd love to hear it. I just wanted to put that on the record.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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