Republican Senators Split Over Military Retiree COLA Cuts

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

AA Font size + Print

Several key lawmakers want to halt the COLA adjustment to protect military retirees. By Jordain Carney

A handful of Senate Republicans are balking at a provision in the budget deal that would cut benefits to military retirees.

The deal would decrease the annual cost-of-living adjustment for working-age military retirees by 1 percent, cutting approximately $6 billion in spending over 10 years.

The deal finds savings by “targeting military retirees,” said Sen. James  Inhofe, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee. The Oklahoma senator is currently undecided.

And Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., cited the cuts as a deciding factor in their decision to vote against the bill.

The three sent a letter to Senate members Friday, calling for them to find alternative cuts to those proposed in the current agreement.

But the cuts appear likely to remain in the final deal, because trying to change the terms of the deal now would likely stall it, given that the House has recessed for the year.

Outside groups have also hit back hard against the provision. The Military Coalition, in a letter to House members, said that if the decrease in COLA is carried out it “will have a devastating financial impact for those who retire at the 20-year point by reducing retired pay by nearly 20 percent at age 62.”

And Mike Barron, with the Military Officers Association of America, said that by suggesting the cuts, members of Congress are hurting a “key retention tool” need to help retain “a top-quality career force.”

Barron also said the decision undercuts the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Committee, which is expected to look at ways to reform military pay. Their report isn’t due until May 2014.

Their objections pit them against leaders in the Defense Department who have backed the budget deal. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, while acknowledging that even with the budget agreement the department still faces huge fiscal challenges, said that “it will help address our military readiness challenge by restoring funding for training and procurement, especially in the current fiscal year.”

Even with the current cuts, Hagel noted that military leaders will have to find a balance between the size of the military and its readiness and capabilities.

The current battle could be all for naught, though. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., said that committee members will “review this change after we convene next year.” The cuts aren’t expected to take effect until December 2015.

He also suggested that Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Committee could impact the issue further.

Close [ x ] More from DefenseOne
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from DefenseOne.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Federal IT Applications: Assessing Government's Core Drivers

    In order to better understand the current state of external and internal-facing agency workplace applications, Government Business Council (GBC) and Riverbed undertook an in-depth research study of federal employees. Overall, survey findings indicate that federal IT applications still face a gamut of challenges with regard to quality, reliability, and performance management.

    Download
  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

    Download
  • GBC Issue Brief: Supply Chain Insecurity

    Federal organizations rely on state-of-the-art IT tools and systems to deliver services efficiently and effectively, and it takes a vast ecosystem of organizations, individuals, information, and resources to successfully deliver these products. This issue brief discusses the current threats to the vulnerable supply chain - and how agencies can prevent these threats to produce a more secure IT supply chain process.

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Information Operations: Retaking the High Ground

    Today's threats are fluent in rapidly evolving areas of the Internet, especially social media. Learn how military organizations can secure an advantage in this developing arena.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.