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CA Congress members want to repeal military retiree pension cuts

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Republican Congressman Darrell Issa's proposal to restore a cost of living cut for military veterans would be financed by reducing postal delivery to five days.

It's a sign of a good compromise when nobody's happy. 

Quite a few Congressional somebodys aren't happy with the budget compromise passed just before Christmas — at least the part that affects military veterans. The budget deal cut one percent from the annual cost-of-living increase for military retirees under age 62. That would save the federal government an estimated $6 billion over the next decade.

Lawmakers from both parties almost immediately began co-sponsoring bills to reverse the pay cut. They disagree, however, on how to finance it.

Ten Californians, Democrats and Republicans alike, favor a straight repeal. Those backing HR 3790 include Republicans Paul Cook of Big Bear, Duncan Hunter of San Diego and David Valadao of Hanford,  as well as Democrats Mark Takano of Riverside, Julia Brownley from Ventura, and Raul Ruiz of Palm Springs. Congressman Ruiz says, "As a member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, it is a top priority of mine to ensure veterans in the Coachella Valley and across the country receive the benefits they have earned.”

Vista Republican Darrell Issa says he's found a way to not only restore the cuts and replace the savings, "but nearly triple them.” Issa's bill, HR 3801, would find the money by cutting back mail delivery by the U.S. Postal Service to five days a week. The Post Office has long been a target of Issa's, who says eliminating one day of mail would save $17 billion over the next decade.

Democrats Scott Peters of San Diego and John Garamendi of the Sacramento area have a different idea. They've co-sponsored a bill that restores the pension reduction by ending "loopholes that allow corporations to avoid paying taxes." Garamendi says the Military Retirement Restoration Act is necessary, "so that we don’t balance our budget on the backs of the men and women who valiantly served us and earned their pension.”

It's a safe bet that one or more of these measures will be among the first order of business for the House of Representatives when it returns to work on Jan. 7.

Correction: An earlier headline in this story referred to "veterans pensions." The pensions were for military retirees. 

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