Murkowski Votes to Restore Full Veterans Pensions

Senator Pleased that Bipartisan Effort Resolved Issue Without Adding to Deficit

Senator Murkowski today voted with her Senate colleagues to rectify the 1% decrease in cost of living adjustments (COLA) to early military retirees included as part of the December bipartisan budget deal. Senator Murkowski has been a strong advocate in attempting to overturn this cut, and has worked with Senate colleagues across the aisle in order to correct this.

“I stand with our brave men and women in uniform who put their lives on the line for the safety and comfort Alaskans enjoy.  This cut to early retirees’ cost of living adjustments as a part of the bipartisan budget agreement was a mistake to begin with – and something I’ve been fighting to repeal since even before that bill was passed.

“Today’s vote restores the full benefits to our early retirees and it does so without digging our nation deeper into debt.  Last month, I worked with my Senate colleagues to undo this cut through a number of bipartisan spending solutions, and I am pleased both the House and Senate have passed this bill with a workable way to pay for itself.  We honor the commitment and sacrifice made to these men and women who made our nation stronger by not weakening our nation through added debt.”

Background on Murkowski COLA Efforts:

Senator Murkowski voted in support of the bipartisan budget deal in December to set spending levels for the government through Fiscal Year 2015, and avoid a repeat of the turmoil created in Alaska and across the country by the federal government shutdown.  However, she opposed one component of the deal: a 1% cut in yearly Cost of Living Adjustments for early military retirees’ pensions.  This cut would begin in January of 2016, and would only take effect until the retiree reached the official retirement age of 62, at which point they would receive their full pension.

Before the budget deal – brokered by Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) – even came up for a full U.S. Senate vote, Murkowski co-sponsored a measure that would repeal these COLA cuts only to have the Senate Majority Leader refuse to allow any votes on the issue.

When the U.S. Senate began considering an extension of long-term unemployment insurance benefits in January, Senator Murkowski joined with 7 of her Republican Senate colleagues to restore full benefits to our early military retirees as a part of the legislative package. To attract bipartisan support, the 8 Senators used offsets supported by Democrats to pay for the extension.  The Majority Leader refused to allow this proposal to come up for a vote, despite the clear efforts to build consensus across party lines.