We’re Not Finished Yet! Spending Bill Makes only a Partial Fix to COLA Reduction
Congress passed legislation, known as the omnibus spending bill, which would fund the government through the rest of Fiscal Year 2014. The bill follows the framework established by the Bipartisan Budget Agreement (BBA), which was created by Representative Paul Ryan, (R-1st, WI) and Senator Patty Murray, (D-WA) and passed both houses of Congress last month. While the spending bill will provide the Department of Defense (DoD) with temporary relief from the budget cuts caused by sequestration, it is far from perfect. Most egregiously, it still imposes an unfair cut to the COLA adjustments for military retirees under age 62 to 1 percentage point less than the annual inflation in consumer prices, starting in December 2015. The COLA adjustment will be restored for medically retired service members and survivors who receive survivor benefit plan annuity payments under the legislation.
The spending bill provides $572 billion in discretionary spending for DoD among other Federal departments. This is less than the Administration requested in the budget it sent to Congress last year. While some analysts are proclaiming sequestration “fixed” for the next two years for DoD, we are concerned about how the Department will make up the shortfall in funding. Cuts to Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) rates, threats to the Commissary benefit, reduced access to health care have all been floated as on the chopping block – this while we remain a Nation at war.
Our Association continues to fight to sustain these important benefits with all policy makers – on the Hill, in DoD, and in the arena of public opinion. We need you to contact your Member of Congress about what programs, benefits, and resources are most essential for your readiness as a military family. Let your local commanders and other senior leaders know which programs are working and what are not, so they can use constrained budget resources efficiently.
You may contact your Congressional Leader by phone, via email, or snail mail. Personal letters containing information unique to your military family are best. Use a zip code search to find your Representatives and Senators. You can also communicate with Members of Congress using social media, such as Facebook or Twitter. Here is a list of U.S. House of Representatives social media accounts and U.S. Senate social media accounts.
Our service members and their families never fail to answer the call, and in return, our government has promised to provide them with resources to keep them ready. We call on all Congressional leaders to #KeepYourPromise.
Until military families are relieved of the weight of war, we hope you will continue to contribute to their wellbeing.
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