Sen. Ayotte: Budget Deal Would Harm Disabled Veterans

Image: Sen. Ayotte: Budget Deal Would Harm Disabled Veterans Sen. Kelly Ayotte speaks alongside Sen. Roger Wicker at a Dec. 17 news conference on Capitol Hill.

Tuesday, 17 Dec 2013 05:33 PM

By Greg Richter

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Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., is urging both parties to work through Christmas if necessary to keep the bipartisan budget deal from harming disabled veterans.

Ayotte has filed two amendments she says would pay for the $6 billion lost by restoring cuts to veterans' retirement benefits, but she said Tuesday on CNN's "The Lead with Jake Tapper" that her amendments will not be taken up by the Democrat-controlled Senate.

The budget deal was negotiated between Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., last week and approved by the House on Thursday.

Twelve Republicans joined Democrats on Tuesday to push the bill toward a final Senate vote later this week. 

If Ayotte's amendments are accepted, the House would have to vote on the Senate version. If passed without any amendments, the bill goes to President Barack Obama's desk for his signature, so neither side has much interest in making changes to the current bill.

But Ayotte is unhappy that current military retirees are having their benefits cut while for other federal employees the cuts apply only to new hires.

"So, if they had their legs blown off in Afghanistan, we're now going to cut their cost-of-living increases," Ayotte told CNN. "It's one thing if there's some form of shared sacrifice that we're looking at across the government."

Some of Ayotte's fellow Republicans fear another government shutdown in January, for which they might be blamed again, if the deal doesn't pass before Congress takes its Christmas break.

But Ayotte said it's not necessary to risk another government shutdown to help military retirees.

"Why not stay through Christmas to fix this?" she said. "I'm willing to do that."


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