House votes to cancel cuts to military benefits

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Acting to appease furious veterans’ groups, the House passed a bill Tuesday to undo about $6 billion worth of cuts to military retirement benefits.

The cuts were part of December’s budget deal, negotiated by Rep. Paul Ryan for Republicans and Sen. Patty Murray for Democrats. But the cut to cost-of-living adjustments for future military retirement benefits didn’t sit well with many of their colleagues, who said the two had made a mistake.

The new House bill passed 326-90 with big majorities of both Democrats and Republicans voting in favor of it, over the objections of Democratic leaders.

In order to pay for the added spending, Republicans expanded the ongoing sequesters.

That left Democrats fuming that the GOP was forcing them to choose between cuts to military retirement or across-the-board cuts from everywhere.

“They’re really simply robbing one group of deserving people to pay other deserving people,” said Rep. Adam Smith, the ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee.

Congress has already undone part of the cut that would have affected wounded veterans’ benefits. But some, including Mr. Ryan, had said the cuts to regular military retirement benefits were a needed in order to make sure the retirement system’s costs didn’t spiral out of control.

The Senate is currently debating a similar bill, though that version, written by Democrats, doesn’t include any offsets to account for the extra spending.

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