Pentagon budgets for 2015; Congress debates changes to 2014 COLA

Posted by Debi Teter

militaryauthority.com federal budget breakdown“The President’s 2015 Budget will be released on March 4. Now that Congress has finished its work on this year’s appropriations, the Administration is able to finalize next year’s Budget. We are moving to complete the Budget as quickly as possible to help Congress return to regular order in the annual budget process,” Steve Posner, a spokesman for the White House’s Office of Management and Budget said in an email last week.

The Defense Department, which receives the most funding of any federal agency, plans to spend about $606 billion in fiscal 2014 and is also expected to release its budget request for fiscal 2015 on March 4.

We would be very surprised, though, if the 2015 budget becomes a settled matter so many months before it goes into effect. After all, the 2014 budget is still being “tweaked” by Congress to fix issues pertaining to COLA and veterans’ health benefits even though it was passed without the usual drama we’re accustomed to seeing in Washington.

The cap on COLA for working-age military retirees was just enacted by Congress last month in an effort to save $6 billion over the next 10 years as part of the bipartisan budget deal. But after military organizations decried the move as yet another broken promise to service members, Congress seems desperate to undo the cap before it becomes a larger political issue.

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt), chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, has introduced a mammoth 400+ page bill called the “Comprehensive Veterans Health and Benefits and Military Retirement Pay Restoration Act of 2014? which ties the COLA cap to an overhaul of other veterans benefits. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev) backs the bill, which seeks to strengthen more than 130 veterans programs of every kind.

The bill won’t sail through Congress as easily as the budget did, however. Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla) blocked a similar, but smaller, bill last month because the spending wasn’t paid for by other offsets. Coburn argued that the VA has increased spending 58% in the last five years while showing that it can’t effectively administer the benefits it already provides, so adding new health and education benefits cannot be justified.

 

#VeteransBenefits #2014COLA #2015Budget

Image source: omnilligence.net


 

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