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Roby Joins Effort to Restore Military Pension Increases

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Congresswoman Martha Roby (R) from Montgomery announced in a written statement that she was supporting legislation that would restore military pension increase while prohibiting taxpayer-funded giveaways to illegal aliens.

On Wednesday the U.S. Senate passed a House budget agreement that will control spending for the next two years.  On Thursday U.S. Representative Martha Roby said that she was joining Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R) from Pennsylvania and others in the House in moving to replace one of the least popular provisions in the budget plan to ensure that military retirees are not unfairly penalized under the new law.

The Conservative Congresswoman from Alabama said in a written statement, “Today I am joining Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick and others in the House to offer a companion bill to Sen. Sessions’ commonsense amendment. I believe that this is a fix the Republican Conference can rally around. I have personally contacted the House leadership this morning to give voice to the concerns of military retirees in my district who feel singled out by the budget agreement. I am strongly encouraging our leaders to use the Christmas week as an opportunity to build support for this or similar legislation so that we can pass it upon our return in January. In my opinion, it should be the first item on the docket for 2014.”

Sen. Jeff Sessions strongly opposed the budget agreement and tried to amend it to restore the cost of living increases for America’s veterans, but new Democratic Party engineered Senate rules allowed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) from Nevada to block Sessions attempt to amend the package on the Senate floor.

Rep. Roby said, “I greatly appreciate Sen. Sessions’ leadership in crafting and fighting for this amendment, which was only denied because Majority Leader Harry Reid used procedural tactics to block it.”

Rep. Roby does not regret her decision to vote for the budget deal in the House of Representatives.  She said, “There are many good things in the budget agreement passed by Congress: setting a sustainable path of controlled federal spending, preventing some of the harmful sequestration cuts to our military, and returning Congress to regular order to end the days of massive temporary spending bills passed at the last minute. I applaud the negotiators for tackling a difficult challenge and producing the first compromise budget in a divided government in 27 years.”

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Rep. Roby continued, “However, the final product was not what I would have drafted, and House members were not given the opportunity to improve the bill through amendments on the floor. One provision that is particularly troublesome is the one percent reduction in the cost of living adjustment for working age military retirees beginning in 2015. Just look at the vast federal government that is rife with waste. Are reductions to military benefits really the best place for Congress to make cuts? I don’t think so, and I that’s why I believe that provision should be removed.”

Rep. Roby said the legislation would repeal the unpopular provision that reduces working-age military pensions beginning in 2015.  Fitzpatrick and Roby’s bill replaces the lost budget savings with a measure preventing illegal aliens from receiving the Refundable Child Tax Credit.

The House legislation, H.R. 3788 compliments the Senate amendment offered by Sen. Sessions during debate on the budget plan in the Senate.

The Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that changing the Refundable Tax Credits so that only citizens can receive it would save as much as $7 billion.  The budget savings gained from cutting the military pension cost of living increases was only $6 billion.

Rep. Roby said, “We need to make this right. In the coming weeks, we will try to use our position of strength in the House majority to improve upon the budget agreement and better prioritize our budget savings.”

In a 2011 report form the Treasury Inspector General wrote, “Millions of people are seeking this tax credit who, we believe, are not entitled to it. We have made recommendations to the IRS as to how they could address this, and they have not taken sufficient action in our view to solve the problem.”

The Treasury Inspector General continued, “The payment of Federal funds through this tax benefit appears to provide an additional incentive for aliens to enter, reside, and work in the United States without authorization, which contradicts Federal law and policy to remove such incentives.”

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The issue of tax credits to ineligible aliens has come up repeatedly, however when Rep. Paul Ryan (R) from Wisconsin and Senator Patty Murray (D) from Washington crafted their two year budget plan it did not address the illegal aliens receiving the tax credits (often as checks from the Treasury).  Instead the Ryan-Murray plan cut cost of living raises for veterans under that age of 65 including the pensions of veterans who were disabled due to their service in the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Rep. Martha Roby is in her second term in the United States Congress.  She represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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