Sen. Graham: Senate Will Pass Military COLA Fix

Wednesday, 12 Feb 2014 10:11 AM

By Courtney Coren

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Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina says he's 99 percent sure the cut to the annual cost-of-living adjustments of military pensions included in the budget agreement passed in December will be repealed Wednesday in the Senate.

"I am highly confident that we will take the House-passed COLA fix, bring it to the floor of the Senate — and it is paid for beginning in April — and it will be an overwhelming vote to get this behind us," Graham said Tuesday on the Hugh Hewitt radio show.

Republicans were trying to include the fix to military pension cuts in the bill to increase the debt ceiling, but after House Speaker John Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor were not able to get enough votes to pass the measure, Boehner opted to have a vote on a clean bill that didn't tie the debt ceiling to any other policies.

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The House passed the COLA bill after some heated debate between party leaders Tuesday on  a 326-90 vote, getting the two-thirds it needed because it had been put on the suspension calendar.

"It's a technical issue," Graham told Hewitt. "The House passed the COLA bill that basically sets aside the military COLA reduction. It's paid for by extending sequestration a year. But the pay-for doesn't score until April the 15th, so this is a technicality."

The measure extends the military benefits that had been cut by the budget deal struck by Republican Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington to keep the Medicare budget at sequestration levels.

"There is a time when the two groups in American come together," Graham said. "We are united a lot. We all love the military. I just think our foreign policy is better than theirs, but at the end of the day, the veterans groups and talk radio, and people on the left spoke with the same voice, and Democrats found it hard to explain why you wouldn't want to pay for this change, because it's only $6 billion over 10 years."

"Republicans found it hard to suggest this was fair," he added. "So, the two sides came together. Republicans couldn't sell this as fair, because it's not, and Democrats couldn't explain why you shouldn't pay for it, because you should. And I think that is a big win for the country."

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