By HENRY C. JACKSON Associated Press
January 08, 2014 - 5:47 pm EST
WASHINGTON — Sen. John Hoeven on Wednesday joined a push to restore cuts to the pensions of working-age U.S. military retirees that were included in last month's budget agreement.
Hoeven joined several other Republicans in seeking the payments be restored in a bill extending long-term unemployment benefits that the Senate is considering.
"Whether you talk to Republicans or Democrats ... there was a commitment to fix this," Hoeven said. "We should do it."
The budget agreement President Barack Obama signed in December included a cut to cost-of-living increases for military retirees still of working age, phasing in a reduction to their cost of living adjustment by 1 percentage point. Once a retiree turns 62, they would receive full payments at the full level.
The cuts would save about $6 billion over 10 years. But lawmakers in both the Senate and the House have said they want to restore the cost of living adjustment for working-age veterans and find other ways to trim the budget.
Hoeven said he was concerned the cuts would hurt North Dakota's retired military population and said veterans who served deserved the payment.
The issue is important enough, and the bipartisan support for restoring the cuts significant enough, that it should be included immediately in a potential extension of long-term unemployment benefits, he said.
Republicans, including Hoeven, have also insisted that any extension of long-term unemployment benefits also include other cuts to offset the cost of extending the benefits.
"It's got to be paid for," Hoeven said.
He added, "Is this a serious effort if we don't have pay offsets? How's this bill going to go through the House if we don't?"
Many Democrats, including Majority Leader Harry Reid, have said they are open to restoring the pension payments but don't think it needs to be attached to the extension of unemployment benefits. Democrats have also resisted efforts to make different cuts to pay for extending long-term unemployment benefits.
Jackson, Henry. "GOP Sen. John Hoeven joins push to restore military pensions cut in budget deal." . The Republic, 08 Jan 2014. Web. 9 Jan 2014. <http://www.therepublic.com/view/story/4cd165b669f049d994617f286c5ee65a/N....