Senator Lamar Alexander today released the following statement on his vote against increasing the federal government’s debt limit:
The measure passed 55-43.
“I voted against increasing the debt limit because Congress took no steps to address the federal government’s most urgent need: reducing the growth of mandatory entitlement spending that is driving our $17 trillion debt. One way to address out-of-control entitlement spending would be for Congress and President Obama to support a plan like the Fiscal Sustainability Act I’ve introduced with Senator Corker, which would reduce the growth of entitlement spending by nearly $1 trillion over the next 10 years.”
Senator Alexander also voted for legislation that restores pension benefits to military personnel that were cut as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act in December. Senator Alexander voted against cutting military pension benefits when the legislation came before the Senate.
“Changing pensions in a way that treated military retirees worse than civilian federal retirees was a bad idea in the first place, and it’s one of the reasons I voted against the budget agreement in December,” Senator Alexander said. “Today I voted to restore these military benefits because they’re important to the men and women who have worn the uniform of our Armed Services.”
The budget agreement passed by Congress last December included a cut to the cost-of-living adjustments for military pensions starting in December of 2015, affecting the benefits of current retired military personnel under the age of 62, not just future retirees. The legislation passed by the Senate today – which already passed the Republican U.S. House of Representatives – restores those benefits.
The legislation Congress passed today pays for restoring military benefits by extending by one year – to 2024 – automatic spending cuts that were already affecting mandatory entitlement spending and other programs in future years. Those automatic spending cuts were passed as part of the Budget Control Act of 2011, which Senator Alexander supported.
When Senator Alexander voted against the budget agreement on Dec. 18 of last year, he cited military pensions as one reason he voted against the bill. Senator Alexander also said that Congress should address out-of-control entitlement spending by using savings identified in the Fiscal Sustainability Act he has introduced with Senator Bob Corker – which reduces entitlement spending by nearly $1 trillion over the next 10 years – or with entitlement savings suggested in the president’s budget.