Military retirees would see reduction in benefits with budget deal
The budget battle may be over in Congress, but lawmakers may have started a fight with those who have already been to battle: members of America's military.
Hawaii lawmakers said they weren't very happy with the budget deal that caps federal spending for the next two years about a trillion dollars, but three of Hawaii's four Washington legislators voted in favor of the bill.
"After going thru a 16-day government shutdown, the second worst in the country, and seeing so many failed negotiations this bi-partisan deal is a step forward in the right direction," said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.
One of the ways the government would save an expected $6 Billion over the next ten years would come from reducing the cost of living increase for many military retirees by one percent each year.
That change could add up to more than $120,000 in lost benefits to some.
"They stabbed us in the back. Why would you go after the military, the guys who have sacrificed so much already?" asked former U.S. Marine Tom Fratinardo.
He also questions why Hawaii's lawmakers would support the budget bill, when they come from a state where the military is a key player.
"The one person I cannot believe voted for it was Tulsi Gabbard -- she's a military veteran. Why would she vote for it?" asked Fratinardo.
"This budget bill was far from perfect. There were many flaws. My commitment remains to push for and fight for the benefits military retirees have earned and put their lives on the line for," said Gabbard.
Gabbard, along with Hawaii's senators now say they will push for legislation that will fix the problem even before it begins.
"I have signed on to a bill that would restore those cuts. Even though they don't go into effect til 2015, we'd like to take some action now to see a change," said Sen. Mazie Hirono.
"I am proudly supporting legislation to protect military retirees from the cost-of-living pay adjustment. The cost-of-living pay adjustment won't take effect until January, 2015 -- so we have time to fix this issue, but we must fix this issue," stated Sen. Brian Schatz.
Rep. Colleen Hanabusa said she voted against the budget bill because it would cut unemployment benefits, raise fees for air travel, and break a promise made to the men and women who served our country.
"They served and put themselves in harm's way. After all with the promises we made to them, we are going to take it back? That's not the way we come to a bi-partisan agreement," said Hanabusa.
Some Hawaii veterans feel they are now without their biggest supporter in Washington. Tuesday was the one-year anniversary of the death of Senator Daniel Inouye.
The bi-partisan budget bill will now go to President Barack Obama for his signature.
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