Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said the committee would review a proposed cut to military pensions after the holiday following backlash from numerous veterans organizations, reported Stars and Stripes. The one percent cut in annual cost-of-living increases for non-disabled veterans under the age of 62, which was included in the two-year budget deal passed by the House, likely will become law before the committee gets a chance to address it. However, even if the Senate passed the budget as is, the pension cut would not go into effect until December 2015, giving Congress time to make adjustments. The Senate is expected to approve the budget next week and the House already has adjourned for the holidays. Levin on Friday said the on-going review by the Military Retirement and Compensation Modernization Commission also “may further bear on this issue.” Rep. Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee and one of the lead negotiators of the two-year deal, said only about 17 percent of military personnel eventually qualify for the “exceptionally generous benefit, often providing 40 years of pension payments in return for 20 years of service,” according to a statement on the HBC website. The fact that between Fiscal 2002 and Fiscal 2012, “payments to military retirees from the Military Retirement Fund rose by 49 percent” is one of the reason’s Ryan argued the system must be reformed. (HBC statement on military compensation reform)
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.