- The Washington Times - Monday, February 10, 2014

One veterans group is demanding Congress not use service members as a “political chew toy” in the upcoming debate over the debt ceiling.

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans for America said many in both chambers want to do away with a cut to the cost-of-living adjustment included in the 2013 budget deal, but noted members in the House are threatening to make the fight political by linking it to the debt ceiling deal.

“Some from both parties want to use the military retirement issue to score political points, and have proposed attaching the issue to highly-politicized debates,” said Paul Rieckhoff, founder and CEO of IAVA. “Veterans don’t want to be used as a political chew toy. Veterans saw enough of that during the government shutdown, and we are tired of it.”

Democrats have said they will not negotiate on a debt ceiling increase, and that a clean deal must be passed with no unrelated legislation attached.

The budget deal cut the cost-of-living adjustment to 1 percent below inflation for military retirees under age 62, sparking backlash from the veterans’ community and a flurry of legislation introduced by both parties to undo the unpopular cuts.

“We need Congressional leaders to get in the same room and ensure that the promised benefits to those who have served our country are restored - and restored immediately,” Mr. Rieckhoff said. “We can assure members of both parties that veterans are watching closely to see who plays politics – and who steps up to restore the retirement pay Congress so recklessly cut.”


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