MERRIMACK— Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, will appear in Merrimack today with leaders from several state veterans service organizations, calling for cuts to military retiree benefits to be removed from a budget deal currently before the U.S. Senate.
Ayotte is expected to offer remarks at 11:45 a.m. today in Merrimack at VFW Post 8641, 282 Daniel Webster Highway.
In a letter sent to her Senate colleagues Friday, Sen. Ayotte was joined by Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Roger Wicker, R-Mich., in calling for a bipartisan solution to replace $6.3 billion in cuts to military retiree benefits included in the budget deal.
"It's unacceptable to single out our men and women in uniform in this way," saidAyotte. "Although the budget deal is far from perfect because it fails to address the primary drivers of our debt, if the cuts in military retiree benefits are replaced with acceptable alternative savings, I'm prepared to support it to provide budgetary certainty and sequestration relief for our nation's critical defense programs."
To achieve approximately $6.3 billion in savings, the legislation currently includes a provision that requires a 1 percent reduction in cost of living benefits for many military retirees under age 62. Ayotte said according to analysis by the Senate Budget and Armed Services Committees, under the proposal, a sergeant first class who retires in his early 40s — someone who has served over the past two decades and likely deployed multiple times — could lose more than $70,000.
The Military Coalition, composed of more than 30 military and veterans groups, including the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Military Officers Association of America and the National Guard Association of the United States, has expressed strong opposition to the budget agreement, saying it "seeks to penalize current and future military members who have served our nation for over 20 years."