Sen. Kelly Ayotte is spearheading an effort to restore cuts to military retiree pensions, this time as a proposal that is paid for by cracking down on tax credits for illegal immigrants.
The New Hampshire Republican, with Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Roger Wicker, R-Miss., would restore pension cuts that reduce cost-of-living increases for non-combat, non-disabled, military retirees that were authorized by the omnibus spending bill that cleared Congress earlier this month. The GOP proposal would offset the cost of the restoration with new regulations to prevent immigrants “who are not authorized to work in the U.S.” from receiving federal child tax credits.
To protect children from being penalized by the legal status of their parents, Ayotte proposes to allow the refundable tax credits to continue to flow to any child who has obtained a valid Social Security number. The proposal would save the federal government about $20 billion over 10 years, more than enough to cover the $6 billion cost of restoring the cuts.
“It was absolutely wrong to single out our men and women in uniform for [an] unfair military retirement cut in the budget agreement,” Ayotte said.
Ayotte, Graham and Wicker tried and failed to address the issue when the spending bill was being debated. That legislation fulfilled the budget agreement reached in December by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Budget Chairman Patty Murray, D-Wash. Now, the three senators are back with a new proposal to restore the pension cuts that they argue should satisfy the concerns of Democrats and Republicans.
Ayotte told the Washington Examiner Tuesday afternoon that she had yet to vet the proposal with her colleagues, but hopes to attach it to a flood insurance bill currently under consideration in the Senate. It’s not clear if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., will permit it to receive a vote. Also unknown is how Ayotte’s proposal might be received by House Republicans.
She said that political momentum is building behind the notion that military retirees should not have their pensions' cost-of-living increases docked. The matter received scant attention during the period between the passage of the Murray-Ryan agreement and approval of the omnibus spending bill.