Yesterday, U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich joined the full Senate in voting to undo a 1 percent reduction to the cost of living adjustment (COLA) for working-age military retirees and current service members who have not yet reached retirement. The reduction in COLA was included as part of a bipartisan budget agreement passed by the Senate in December. The Senate voted 95-3 to reverse the cut. The U.S. House of Representatives approved the measure earlier this week. It now goes to the president to be signed into law.
In a statement issued after the vote, Senator Udall said:
“The bipartisan budget deal was important to New Mexico because it replaced harmful sequestration cuts with smarter alternatives that will support the growth of small businesses, create jobs, and support our active duty military and their families. However it also included an unfair cut to the cost of living adjustments of working age military retirees, which I have been working to reverse since the budget deal was announced.
“I’ve heard from New Mexico military retirees and their families about the importance of these benefits. We shouldn’t balance the books on the backs of those who were promised these benefits. This was the right thing to do, and I am very pleased to join the Senate in a bipartisan vote to reverse this cut.”
Senator Udall has worked to reverse the cut to working-age military retirees’ COLA since it was included as part of the budget bill. He was a cosponsor of the Military Retirement Restoration Act introduced in January as an amendment to unemployment insurance legislation. The amendment mirrored an earlier measure introduced in December.
U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich issued the following statement after voting in favor of a bill to restore the pension cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) to military men and women’s retirement pay. The measure passed the Senate by a vote of 95-3 and now goes to the President for his signature.
“The bipartisan budget resolution helped avoid another government shutdown and did away with some of the arbitrary spending cuts known as the sequester while providing some stability for our economy. But the final agreement wasn’t perfect, especially because of the cuts to Cost-of-Living Adjustments benefits for our military retirees.
“It’s critical that we continue to reduce our deficit, but we must do it responsibly. Balancing the budget on the backs of our veterans and their families is not an option.
“Our men and women in uniform have risked their lives to protect our nation and deserve more than words of gratitude for their sacrifice. They deserve the quality care and benefits that they were promised.
“New Mexico is home to thousands of service members and veterans and I will continue to work to ensure that our future military retirees receive the benefits that they have earned.”