In two words: Unbelievable, Unacceptable.
From the Houston Chronicle, "Texas on the Potomac":
Dysfunction in DC: Disabled veterans held hostage to election year stunt
Thursday, September 27, 2012
Need any more evidence of our dysfunctional Congress?
Now, a “mystery senator” is blocking disabled veterans and their survivors from getting a cost-of-living adjustment to their benefits.
The unnamed Republican — whose identity is known only by a small group of Republican leaders — took advantage of Senate rules that allow any senator, for any reason (or no reason) to slow down legislation.
The result of the pre-election tactic is that 3.9 million disabled veterans and their family members will not receive a modest benefits increase to reflect inflation. Disabled veterans were slated to receive the same annual cost-of-living increase provided to Social Security recipients, which is based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index.
There is no known opposition to the measure authored by Senate Veteran’s Affairs Committee Chair Patty Murray of Washington.
Every Democratic senator has publicly stated that she or he was not blocking the inflation adjustment. No Republican has come forward to explain the action, and GOP leaders have not identified by lawmaker in question.
“This is stunning, particularly because we still don’t have any indication why someone would block a cost-of-living adjustment for veterans and their surviving spouses, many of whom are struggling to make ends meet,” Murray said in a statement released by her office. “This adjustment for our disabled veterans is hard earned and well deserved. My hope is that whichever senator has decided to hold up this bill will at least come forward to own up to it. That way we can move forward to overcome their oppositions and get our veterans the support they need.”
We’ll let you know if we find out the identity of the senator who is playing politics with disabled veterans. We’ll let you know if members of the Senate Republican leadership, including John Cornyn of Texas, identify the lawmaker or have any comment on the situation.
From Bergmann & Moore:
Unknown Senator blocks bill; costing disabled veterans up to $500 next year
After passing the House of Representatives, the Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) increase for VA benefits was blocked in the Senate by an unknown Senator, according to Senate staffers who alerted Bergmann & Moore.
The Veterans COLA affects a number of key benefits for veterans: disability compensation, pension as well as survivor benefits. The uncontroversial bill adjusts VA benefits to keep up with inflation and easily passes Congress each year.
Paul Sullivan, a Gulf War veteran and Director of Veterans Outreach for Bergmann & Moore, LLC, a law firm concentrating on VA disability law, said, “This secret hold is unconscionable: it will take up to $500 next year out of the wallets of disabled veterans and their families: money they need to pay their rent and put food on the table for their children.”
According to a statement this afternoon from Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, blocking the bill will reduce benefits starting in January for 3.9 million veterans and their survivors.
“This is stunning,” said Senator Murray. “Particularly because we still don’t have any indication why someone would block a cost-of-living adjustment for veterans and their surviving spouses, many of whom are struggling to make ends meet. This adjustment for our disabled veterans is hard earned and well deserved. My hope is that whichever Senator has decided to hold up this bill will at least come forward to own up to it. That way we can move forward to overcome their oppositions and get our veterans the support they need.”
Bergmann & Moore’s VetsBlog will continue to update this as we learn more.
Update: 1:13 PM. Houston Chronicle just ran an article on this.
Bergmann & Moore, LLC, is based in the Washington, DC metro area, concentrates only on VA disability benefits law. We have helped thousands of Veterans and their families obtain the VA benefits they are entitled to receive. Bergmann & Moore offers a free legal consultation concerning VA disability claims. We gladly welcome all types of claims, including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), military sexual trauma (MST), individual unemployability (IU), and appeals.