COLA for Disabled Veterans and Survivors Gets Final Congressional Approval
As a result of the House's unanimous approval of S. 894, the Veterans' Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2011, disabled veterans will get a 3.6% COLA increase in their disability compensation, the first increase since December 2008. The bill's sponsor, Senator Patty Murray (WA), Chairman of the Veterans' Affairs Committee, said that, "...in this difficult economy, our veterans deserve a boost in their benefits to help make ends meet." House Chairman Jeff Miller (FL) said that, "Due to low inflation the past two years, our veterans have not received an increase. This additional income will help them make ends meet in the coming year."
Although the COLA bill was approved unanimously in both the House and the Senate, and President Obama is expected to sign the legislation before Veterans Day, there is still concern that the Super Committee might consider a proposal to take the COLA back from disabled veterans and their survivors, a move that could generate significant outrage amongst disabled veterans. Bills to Boost Veterans Employment Stalled in Senate
Despite bipartisan and bicameral support for legislation to boost employment prospects for veterans, it now seems unlikely that any bill will make it to the President's desk before Veterans Day. According to an article today by Military Times, "...Senate Democrats are considering adding two White House-sponsored tax provisions that could delay a final vote." The Hiring Heroes Act of 2011 (S. 951) sponsored by Sen. Patty Murray (WA) was approved by the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee on July 18, and H.R. 2433, the Veterans Opportunity to Work Act of 2011, introduced by Rep. Jeff Miller (FL), was approved by the House on October 12, but both bills are waiting for floor time in the Senate.
According to the Military Times article, "If the Senate adds tax credits to the bill — not yet a certainty — the measure would have to return for another vote in the House...", which has not shown interest in the Administration's jobs provisions and is also out of session next week. DAV and other major veterans organizations have made passage of comprehensive veterans jobs legislation a top priority for this year.