Legislative Update for Week Ending December 7, 2018

Legislative Update for Week Ending December 7, 2018

This week, The Senior Citizens League (TSCL) hand-delivered petitions to leaders in the Senate requesting their support for legislation that would strengthen and expand the Social Security program. In addition, lawmakers advanced a short-term deal to keep the federal government operating, and two key bills gained support in Congress.

TSCL Delivers Petitions to Senate Leaders

This week, The Senior Citizens League’s legislative team hand-delivered nearly eight hundred petitions to leaders in the Senate. The petitions urged lawmakers to support legislation that would boost Social Security benefits while strengthening the financing of the program by adopting the Social Security Expansion Act (S. 427).

According to The Senior Citizens League’s research, Social Security benefits have lost 34 percent of their purchasing power since 2000 due in large part to inadequate cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) and rising health care costs.

In October, the Social Security Administration announced that benefits will increase by 2.8 percent in January 2019, but approximately 2 million seniors with the lowest Social Security benefits will not see any net increase in their monthly checks after Medicare Part B premiums are automatically deducted. It will be the fourth year in a row that this group will not see a boost in net benefits due to Part B premiums, which are rising several times faster than Social Security COLAs.

Thousands of The Senior Citizens League’s supporters – including the 800 petition signers – have told us they are failing to keep up with rising costs, and they are forced every day to make tough decisions about how they will spend their Social Security checks. To address this growing issue, The Senior Citizens League and its supporters urge Congress to adopt the Social Security Expansion Act (S. 427) before the end of the 115th Congress.

In a letter that was delivered along with the petitions, Art Cooper – Chairman of The Senior Citizens League’s Board of Trustees – wrote: “This bill would better protect the purchasing power of benefits while improving the solvency of the trust funds for decades to come … If you are already a cosponsor of this critical bill, please accept my gratitude. If you are not, please consider the requests of these eight hundred petition signers and cosponsor it before the end of this year.”

For more information about the Social Security Expansion Act (S. 427), visit the Bill Tracking section of our website. To sign a petition to Congress, click here. To stay updated on The Senior Citizens League’s advocacy work on Capitol Hill, follow us on Twitter.

Lawmakers Advance Short-Term Funding Measure

On Thursday, lawmakers in the House and Senate advanced a two-week stopgap measure to keep the federal government operating past Friday, December 7th. President Trump had not yet signed it into law at the time of writing this week’s legislative update, but he is expected to do so before the midnight deadline. As a result, lawmakers have an extra fourteen days to reach a deal to avoid another government shutdown on December 21st.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (AL) told reporters this week that a government shutdown later this month is a real possibility. He said: “This could make us all come together or it could drive us further apart. We don’t know yet … I’ve been here on Christmas Eve.”

The Senior Citizens League urges lawmakers to act responsibly to keep the federal government fully funded so that essential programs like Social Security and Medicare can operate as smoothly as possible. In the days ahead, we will keep a close eye on the evolving negotiations, and we will continue to advocate for legislative solutions that would strengthen and protect your Social Security and Medicare benefits. For updates, follow us on Twitter or visit the Legislative News section of our website every Friday morning.

Two Key Bills Gain Support

This week, The Senior Citizens League was pleased to see support grow for two key bills that would improve retirement security in America if adopted.

First, one new cosponsor – Representative Ruben Gallego (AZ-7) – signed on to the Competitive DRUGS Act (H.R. 4117), bringing the total up to thirty-seven. If adopted, this bill would prohibit brand name pharmaceutical companies from paying generic drug companies to delay the introduction of their products to the market. Banning these anti-competitive “pay for delay” deals would lead to lower prescription drug prices for older Americans and other consumers.

Second, one new cosponsor – Representative Bradley Byrne (AL-1) – signed on to the bipartisan Social Security Fairness Act (H.R. 1205), bringing the total up to 195 cosponsors. If adopted, this critical bill would repeal the Government Pension Offset (GPO) and the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) – two provisions that unfairly reduce the Social Security benefits of millions of teachers, police officers, and other state and local government employees each year. Its passage would ensure that retired public servants receive the Social Security benefits they have earned and deserve.

The Senior Citizens League enthusiastically supports the two bills mentioned above, and we were pleased to see support grow for them this week. For more information about these and other bills that have been backed by The Senior Citizens League, visit the Bill Tracking section of our website.