Legislative Update for Week Ending May 3, 2013

Legislative Update for Week Ending May 3, 2013

This week, Members of Congress adjourned for a week-long recess and The Senior Citizens League’s (TSCL’s) staff trekked up to Capitol Hill to deliver petitions to each congressional office. In addition, TSCL announced its support for two newly re-introduced bills and two key bills gained new cosponsors.

TSCL Delivers Petitions to Congress

On Thursday, TSCL’s staff marched up to Capitol Hill and delivered hundreds of thousands of petitions to each Member of Congress in the House of Representatives.  The petitions were delivered along with a cover letter from Larry Hyland, Chairman of the Board of Trustees. He urged each of them to support legislation that would protect and defend the earned benefits of seniors, like the Consumer Price Index for Elderly Consumers Act, the Social Security Guarantee Act, and the Notch Fairness Act, among others. He thanked those who have already signed on as cosponsors, and asked others to lend their support to the bills that matter most to our members and supporters.

Two Key Bills Re-introduced

This week, TSCL announced its support for two key bills that have recently been re-introduced. Rep. Rodney Davis (IL-13) introduced the Social Security Fairness Act (H.R. 1795), a bill that would amend the Social Security Act to repeal the Government Pension Offset (GPO) and the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). These two measures unfairly reduce the earned Social Security benefits of millions of teachers, firefighters, peace officers, and other state or local government employees each year. TSCL believes the GPO and the WEP should be repealed immediately so that dedicated public servants receive the retirement security they deserve. Rep. Davis’s bill currently has one cosponsor, Rep. Adam Schiff (CA-28), and TSCL looks forward to helping build support in the coming months.

In addition, Sen. John Barrasso (WY) introduced the Social Security Totalization Agreement Reform Act (S. 767), a bill that would require Congressional oversight and approval of all Totalization Agreements. Currently, such agreements, including the pending U.S. – Mexico Totalization Agreement, are subject only to the approval of the President. TSCL feels that additional oversight is necessary since Totalization Agreements can put a significant strain on the Social Security Trust Fund and pose a threat to current beneficiaries. TSCL was pleased to see Sen. Barrasso re-introduce S. 767, and we look forward to working with him throughout the 113th Congress.

New Cosponsors Sign On to Two Bills

This week, Rep. Mark Takano (CA-41) signed on to Rep. Peter DeFazio’s (OR-4) Consumer Price Index for Elderly Consumers (CPI-E) Act (H.R. 1030), bringing the total up to eleven. If signed into law, Rep. DeFazio’s bill would base the Social Security COLA upon the spending patterns of seniors. Currently, it is based upon the way young, urban workers spend their money – a method that underestimates the spending inflation that seniors experience. A study conducted by TSCL this year found that seniors have lost 31 percent of their purchasing power since 2000 – a clear sign that the current COLA is growing too slowly.

In addition, Rep. Alan Grayson (FL-9) signed on to Rep. Allyson Schwartz’s (PA-13) Medicare Physician Payment Innovation Act (H.R. 574) this week, bringing the total to thirty. This bill would repeal and replace the faulty formula that is used to determine reimbursements for doctors who treat Medicare patients. The current formula breeds uncertainty in the program, and Rep. Schwartz’s bill would bring much-needed stability to Medicare.

TSCL is very supportive of H.R. 1030 and H.R. 574, and we look forward to working with Reps. DeFazio and Schwartz in the coming months to build support and pass both bills into law.