U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) voted against the budget deal because it cuts retirement benefits for current and future military retirees. The legislation passed the Senate by a vote of 64-36 and will now go to President Obama.
"I find it ironic that a few years ago the Senate was forced to stay in Washington and vote on Obamacare on Christmas Eve," said Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. "Yet now we won't stay a few extra days to fix this injustice to our military retirees."
"President Obama, above everyone else, has the responsibility as Commander in Chief to take care of those who honorably serve our nation in uniform," said Graham. "He should not sign this severely flawed legislation into law. Instead, he should show leadership and send Congress back to work to fix this problem."
Graham noted while the budget agreement includes cuts to retirement benefits for current and future military retirees, all current civilian federal employees are protected from an increase in the contribution rate for the Federal Employees Retirement System - the increase would only apply to new federal employees hired after January 1, 2014.
Graham said it was unacceptable to ask our men and women in uniform - including those who are currently serving - to take a disproportionate cut in retirement benefits.
The Pentagon confirmed yesterday that the provision also would cut retirement benefits of service members forced to retire due to medical reasons-including injuries in combat.
"If budgets and legislation reflect our nation's priorities, what would it say about us if we pass a bill that turns to our veterans and says "thank you for deploying to war and enduring the hardships of military life-but we are going to need you to sacrifice again and give back $72,000 of the retirement you have earned," concluded Graham.