Covering Louisiana

Feb 12, 2014 11:48 AM by Dave Fields

Bipartisan Senate coalition votes to repeal COLA reduction for military retirees

WASHINGTON - A bipartisan U.S. Senate coalition voted to repeal the present reduction of the cost of living adjustment (COLA) that currently affects military retirees.

Such a reduction of the COLA affects approximately 9,500 military retirees in Louisiana.

According to a release from U.S. Senator Mary L. Landrieu's office, Landrieu joined Senators Mark Pryor, D-Ark., Bill Nelson, D-Fla., Kay Hagan, D-N.C., Mark Begich, D-Alaska, Angus King, I-Maine, and Mark Warner, D-Va., to call for passage of legislation, S.1963, legislation that would repeal the reduction in the cost of living adjustment (COLA) to military retirees' pay.

On Monday, February 19, 2014, the U.S. Senate cleared a major procedural hurdle when 94 senators of both parties voted to proceed to this bill. In Louisiana, approximately 9,500 military retirees would benefit from a repeal of the COLA reduction.

"Over 20 years ago, Congress' cuts to military retirees' benefits were having an adverse effect on the retention rate of dedicated service members," Landrieu said. "We won't make that mistake again. Louisiana has over 9,000 military retirees who dedicated their lives to serving our country. We made a promise to them, and it's important for us to hold up our end of the bargain."

In 2014, military retirees receive an annual COLA of 1.5 percent. Under the Bipartisan Budget Agreement passed by Congress in 2013, military retirees under the age of 62 would see their COLA reduced by 1 percent beginning in 2015.

Landrieu, a cosponsor of the legislation, was also joined by representatives from several veterans organizations, including The Retired Enlisted Association, the National Guard Association, Vietnam Veterans of America and the Military Officers Association of America.

"We're not just talking about percentages, numbers and figures when it comes to COLA's," Landrieu explained.

"We're talking about benefits our service men and women have earned that will be used to start a business or raise a family," she added. "This legislation is the answer to this problem, and Congress should be working tirelessly to restore the COLA's our military deserve."

Landrieu's office said that the budget agreement included an end to the automatic spending cuts, known as the sequester, which would have devastated Louisiana communities and harmed important Louisiana priorities.

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