Senate agrees to end military pension cuts


WASHINGTON — The Senate gave final approval Wednesday to legislation to fully restore pension benefits to veterans that were cut as part of a recently adopted budget resolution.

Working-age veterans had faced an estimated $6 billion in pension benefit losses over the next decade under the plan that would have trimmed annual cost-of-living adjustments.

The Senate, however, voted 95-3 in favor of legislation to rescind the pension change. The bill cleared the House on Tuesday, 326-90, and now heads to President Obama for his signature.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid gave credit to Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., for having championed the issue with several other Senate Democrats this week.

“Without their leadership we would never have reached a compromise that protects our nation’s heroic veterans, and reached it so quickly,” Reid said. “The Senate’s unanimous vote on Monday forced the House to understand we are serious about this.”

Pryor said he was happy to support the House version.

“My whole goal was to get this fixed. I don’t care who gets the credit,” he said.

Pryor’s original bill included no offset to make up for the $6 billion. The House bill paid for the additional spending by extending mandatory “sequestration” cuts to Medicare by an additional year in 2025.

Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., voted in favor of the bill saying that he opposed last year’s budget resolution because of it unjustly targeted service members.

“I’ve been encouraging my colleagues to restore these cuts. The House acted yesterday and I am pleased the Senate has followed suit and has corrected this injustice,” he said.