Government affairs

Legislative Updates

COLA-related measures introduced in House and Senate

In response to last year’s announcement that there would be no cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) in 2016, three similar pieces of legislation have been introduced to provide relief to Social Security beneficiaries, supplementary security income beneficiaries and recipients of veteran’s benefits.

The Seniors and Veterans Emergency Benefits Act (H.R. 4144, H.R. 4012 and S. 2251) aim to give federal and military retirees a one-time 3.9 percent COLA in 2016, an estimated $581 in 2016 for nearly 70 million beneficiaries.

S. 2251 was introduced by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) with 18 cosponsors. “If we do nothing,” Warren said, “on Jan. 1, more than 70 million seniors, veterans, and other Americans won’t get an extra dime in much-needed Social Security and other benefits. And while Congress sits on its hands and pretends that there’s nothing we can do, taxpayers will keep right on subsidizing billions of dollars’ worth of bonuses for highly paid CEOs. Giving seniors a little help with their Social Security and stitching up corporate tax write-offs isn’t just about economics; it’s about our values.”

H.R. 4144 was introduced by Reps. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Patrick Murphy (D-FL), Hank Johnson (D-GA), Brendan Boyle (D-PA), John Conyers (D-MI), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Brad Ashford (D-NE), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Keith Ellison (D-MN). “Veterans know not to leave anyone behind,” Duckworth said, “but without congressional action, that’s exactly what our government will do to them—as well as millions of seniors and people with disabilities—at the end of the year. I’m proud to work with Senator Warren to ensure seniors and those who have sacrificed for our nation receive the respect and support they deserve.”

H.R. 4012 was introduced by Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL). “Our seniors and veterans have not received a raise in 40 years,” Grayson said. “We have been using the wrong system to determine their cost of living adjustments. Giving our seniors and veterans a 3.9 percent raise, the average raise CEOs at the top 350 American companies got last year, is an important step to righting this wrong. It will also help our economy, as it puts money into the hands of people who will spend it.”

While additional consideration of these measures is unlikely without an identified spending offset, NALC applauds these members of Congress for their dedication to civilian and military federal retirees.

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