POSTED: Wednesday, December 18, 2013 - 5:55pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, December 18, 2013 - 5:59pm
El Paso, TX (KTSM) — Military retirees may soon see their benefits slashed. Congress approved a budget deal on Wednesday -- that will cost-of-living-adjustments for veterans by 1-percent. But a local lawmaker is doing all he can to prevent this from happening. The government wants to save some $6-billion over the next 10 years by reducing COLA payments that some use for their everyday living expenses. The average veteran could see a hit of about $8,000.
Rodney Ross proudly served in the Army for more than two decades, "I just recently retired after 25 years of service and uh, this is kind of new to me,” Ross told us over the phone. He was deployed three times and like the rest of the 80,000 military retirees in the Borderkland is relying on his pension. "And to hear this, about these cuts is, you know, is kind of… putting me down right now."
He won't be affected by congress' plan to slash cost of living raises for veterans -- because he just retired -- but thousands of others will. In a move that aims to save the government $6.2 billion over the course of ten years new retirees are looking at a one-percent cut in their cost of living adjustments or COLA.
"I rely on the military benefits to pay my mortgage and my car payments."
A loss of about $8,000 for the average veteran -- from the time this cut takes place up until they're 62.
At that age, the COLA will go back to full cost of living expenses. But lawmakers like Congressman Beto O'Rourke are working on cutting out this threat to military retirees COLA altogether. "We want to do the right things by them morally for what they've given to our country and we also want to do the right thing for our local economy to make sure we have more dollars moving through this economy,” Congressman Beto O’Rourke [D] of El Paso said.
O'Rourke will introduce new legislation Thursday in response to the budget compromise that the president is expected to sign.
"We're sure to find $6-billion or hopefully a lot more in savings so we don't have to look to our retired military, our veterans who have already given so much to this country.”
Congressman O'Rourke's bill would look at other places to cut -- like tax loopholes... And even the billions of dollars the government gives foreign countries like Egypt.