Today U.S. Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) called for the Super Committee to preserve veterans’ funding even though President Obama’s deficit reduction plan targets these benefits.
Because the Committee has chosen to negotiate behind closed doors, Heller sent a letter to its co-chairs to let them know that Nevada’s veterans are concerned about changes to retirement benefits and rising health care fees.
“The Super Committee has managed to find time to brief special interests on their plans while veterans are left wondering if the benefits they earned are on the chopping block. The commitments our country made to these service members are important for recruiting and retaining the greatest military in the world. The Super Committee should come forward and make sure men and women serving our country know they will receive everything promised to them,” said Senator Heller.
Full text of the letter :
October 6, 2011
The Honorable Patty Murray The Honorable Jeb Hensarling
448 Russell Senate Office Building 129 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20510 Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senator Murray and Representative Hensarling:
As I speak with service members and veterans throughout Nevada, they have expressed a strong concern that military benefits will be cut by the Joint Deficit Reduction Committee. They, like me, do not support attempts to reduce veterans’ benefits and reject the proposal outlined in the President’s deficit reduction plan. Instead of meeting in secret with Washington special interests, this Committee should publicly commit to our nation’s veterans.
Because your Committee has chosen to proceed in secret and not conduct open debate on the issues, I am taking the opportunity to write on behalf of my constituents to inform you of our grave concern with any recommendation to alter or reduce retirement benefits of career military members or increase to Tricare fees. While I recognize the very serious dangers posed by our nation’s debt and share your commitment to address it, I join veterans across Nevada who do not believe that we should balance the budget on their backs. Doing so jeopardizes the futures of our service members, their families, as well as important recruitment and retention tools for our all-volunteer force.
By bringing military retirement compensation in line with civilian plans, the Committee is disregarding the incredible sacrifices and demands imposed on a career service member. The military retirement package is earned compensation and the brave men and women in our Armed Forces pay a very steep premium to earn them through many years of service. This vitally important recruitment and retention tool has been tailored to address the needs of our military personnel, which may not be met by a civilian retirement plan.
I share your commitment to addressing the federal debt and provide a long-term solution to our nation’s fiscal problems. As the lead sponsor of the Budget Control Joint Committee Transparency Act (S.1501), I believe this plan needs to be crafted with the input of all Americans through an open process rather than a series of closed-door meetings. Unfortunately, recent news reports have shown special interests access and influence in the process. I find it deeply disturbing that a special interest handout could be offset by cutting veterans benefits.
Members of the Super Committee should publicly announce whether they are cutting vital services to our nation’s veterans. I encourage you not to follow the Administration’s recommendations and instead reaffirm our nation’s commitment to our nation’s military men and veterans. While seeking ways to meet our financial obligations, this body must first and foremost meet its obligation to the brave men and women who serve and have served in our Armed Forces.
Thank you for your consideration of this matter, and I look forward to receiving your response.
U.S. Senator Dean Heller
Sen. Max Baucus
Rep. Xavier Becerra
Rep. Dave Camp
Rep. Jim Clyburn
Sen. John Kerry
Sen. Jon Kyl
Sen. Rob Portman
Sen. Pat Toomey
Rep. Chris Van Hollen