Update from Pete Gallego

Passing the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 was critical to taking care of our active-duty military and providing them relief from mindless automatic across-the-board cuts required by the “sequester.” 

Ensuring our sons and daughters in uniform get what they need was a good reason to support the budget deal.
I voted for the budget deal because sequestration has been seriously hurting our national security and our nation’s economy. 

But in doing active-duty troops immediate good, the budget deal also changed cost-of-living (COLA) adjustments on certain military retirement pensions. The budget vote was a very tough one for me.

Days after passing the budget deal in December, I sponsored legislation to restore these pensions. In January, I wrote the Speaker of the House and key negotiators asking for a vote on the bill I and 95 other members of Congress sponsored. 

My letters called for immediate action. The following week, chairs of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees – charged with funding the federal government – offered a fix to COLA adjustments for medically retired personnel and their surviving spouses.

On Tuesday, Feb. 11, the House of Representatives passed the Repealing the Reduction in the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for Retired Members of the Armed Services bill. The bill repeals cost-of-living cuts (COLA) for working-age retired veterans and passed with robust bipartisan support, with less than one quarter of the House opposing it. 

The next day, on Wednesday, Feb. 12, the Senate followed suit and passed the COLA repeal as well. 
I’m glad that Democrats and Republicans, conservatives and progressives in both chambers of Congress, are continuously working together to advance the interests of our country. Congress has already done more for the American people in the first six weeks of 2014 than it did last year.

My father was a veteran, and I know how much our service members and their families sacrifice for our country.

Taking meaningful steps to stop the cuts to our active duty men and women, as well as our veterans and their surviving spouses, was absolutely necessary. We must honor the men and women who served – through real actions and not lip service. After all, actions speak louder than words.

U.S. Representative Pete Gallego represents the 23rd Congressional District of Texas, which includes all or parts of 29 counties in southwest Texas, stretching from San Antonio to El Paso. He serves on the House Armed Services and House Agriculture Committees.