Military.com reported yesterday that the annual bill to approve the cost-of-living increase for veterans compensation and pension programs has been taken off the “secret hold” and that the Senate will vote on it when they reconvene, which may not be until mid-November.
This bill is an annual formality that in the past was considered “automatic.” The so-called "secret hold," is a typically used to stall or kill legislation. The fact that the bill was secretly put on hold may cause some concern among veterans. But, Sen. Mitch McConnell's (R-KY) spokesman, Michael Brumas, said "the bill was being reviewed in the waning hours before the Senate finished its work [on Saturday].” Brumas added, “I understand the bill is now cleared for Senate action by both sides."
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., who chairs the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, introduced the COLA bill to the Senate floor on Sept. 20 and it subsequently was cleared by all Senate Democrats.
Murray called the hold on the COLA bill "stunning," in particular because she had no idea why anyone would oppose the cost-of-living adjustment.
The COLA legislation would increase disability compensation for veterans and dependency and indemnity compensation for surviving spouses and children.
The COLA rate, which would match the annual increase provided to Social Security recipients, is based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index. The Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) estimates the 2013 COLA will be somewhere between 1.2% and 1.7%.