Lawmaker: ‘Expedite Bill to Kill COLA Adjustment’

It may not be until spring before any action takes place on efforts to restore full cost-of-living adjustments to the pay of working age military retirees.

It may not be until spring that veterans’ groups and military associations see any action on efforts to restore full cost-of-living adjustments to the pay of working age military retirees.

And even then the measure typically would not be signed into law any earlier than late 2014.

That’s too slow, says a freshman Texas lawmaker, who wants the law trimming military retirements for those under 62 acted on quickly.

“It’s been 24 days since I sponsored the legislation” to halt the adjustments, Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Texas said on Friday. H.R. 3790, filed by Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla. It is now “sitting idle” with the House Armed Services Committee, says Gallego.

“That is unacceptable. We must honor the men and women who served – through real actions and not lip service,” he said.

Gallego on Thursday sent letters to House Speaker Rep. John Boehner, R-Ill., as well as to the chairs of the House and Senate appropriations committees, asking them “for immediate action – to bring the bills for a vote and to fix this for our military retirees.”

He asks Boehner to get Miller’s bill to the floor for a vote. Separately, he asks Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., and Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., the appropriations chairmen, to restore the full COLA as part of omnibus budget bills they will oversee.

Gallego said he voted for the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 worked out by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., because sequestration cuts were damaging national security and the economy. Like other lawmakers, he was happy that the deal partially restored some of the funds that the Pentagon was about to lose and make up for by reductions to training, equipment and exercises.

He was not alone in swallowing hard and voting for the deal.

Republicans and Democrats alike did so – just to get a deal and avoid another showdown and possible shutdown over spending. But  many quickly many quickly began slamming the COLA provision and called to for a do-over to get rid of the adjustment.

Within days more than a dozen bills intended to do just that were introduced, most of them in the House.

They are now with the House Armed Services Committee and are not expected to be cleared through it, if any are, for a few more months.

“Typically, this committee acts on a single comprehensive piece of legislation authorizing the department of defense every year,” HASC spokesman Claude Chafin said on Friday in an email to DodBuzz. “We will begin the oversight work to draft that legislation shortly,” It will be considered by the committee and then the full house sometime in the spring.”

If it follows the usual path that legislation has taken over the past several years, it will be included – if passed – with the National Defense Authorization Act and be signed by the President toward the end of 2014.

“Typically this committee acts on a single comprehensive piece of legislation authorizing the Department of Defense every year,” HASC spokesman Claude Chafin said on Friday in an email to DodBuzz. “We will begin the oversight work to draft that legislation shortly, it will be considered by the committee and then the full house sometime in the spring.”

But if the legislation follows the path DoD legislation has followed for the last several years it will not reach President Obama’s desk for a signature until the whole deal is authorized toward the end of 2014, he said.

About the Author

Bryant Jordan
Bryant Jordan is a reporter for Military.com. He can be reached at bryant.jordan@military.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BryantJordan.