to a table that describes the legislation Congressman Pearce has co-sponsored during the 109th Congress. This table also explains why Congressman Pearce has not cosponsored certain other legislative proposals that could impact veterans.
As a decorated Vietnam War veteran, Congressman Pearce remains committed to doing everything possible to support the brave men and women who have preserved America’s freedom.
Since joining the U.S. House of Representatives in 2003, Congressman Pearce has worked diligently to help our veterans achieve significant progress on a number of fronts.
During his first two months as a member of the United States House of Representatives, Congressman Pearce co-sponsored two bills designed to address longstanding injustices in the federal government’s treatment of veterans and their families. On February 5, 2003, Congressman Pearce became an original cosponsor of H.R. 548, the Military Survivor Benefits Improvement Act of 2003. Introduced by U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller, this legislation phased out the Social Security offset which cut the Survivor Benefit Plan annuity from 55% to 35% at age 62 (often dubbed the “Widow’s Tax”). On March 4, 2003, Congressman Pearce cosponsored Rep. Michael Bilirakis’ bill to end the 115-year old statutory ban on “concurrent receipt,” which prevented military retirees with service-related disabilities from obtaining both their disability benefits and retirement pay.
President Bush signed a compromise measure into law on November 24, 2003 which will entitle 250,000 military retirees to full concurrent receipt by the end of 2013. Costing more than $22 billion, this law constituted historic progress. While not achieving the ideal objective of extending concurrent receipt to all military retirees with service-related disabilities, it provides help for those who need it most. Moreover, despite its ten year phase-in period, this law “front-loads” the transition. More military retirees will begin receiving a greater portion of concurrent receipt during the first several years of this phase-in period.
On October 28, 2004, an additional measure became law that enabled military retirees with a 100% rated disability to immediately begin obtaining concurrent receipt on January 1, 2005. The Ronald W. Reagan National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2005 (P.L. 108-375) also enacted a phase-out of the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) Social Security offset by April 1, 2008.
Congressman Pearce also strongly supported two major bills that became law during the 108th Congress; the Veterans Benefits Act of 2003 (P.L. 108-183) and the Veterans Benefits Improvement Act of 2004 (P.L. 108-254). These measures:
1. Expand the scope and quality of veterans’ health care services;
2. Provide new and increased benefits to disabled veterans;
3. Improve job training and placement services for veterans;
4. Clarify and strengthen employment and re-employment rights for veterans
5. Extend new benefits to veterans’ widows and dependents;
6. Help eradicate homelessness among veterans;
7. Expand the national cemetery system for veterans; and
8. Strengthen the legal rights of all service members.
(Note: the preceding eight summaries were drawn from the text of the legislation, committee descriptions, and other outside sources).
During the 108th Congress, Congressman Pearce was an original cosponsor of H.R. 2475, the Veterans Health Care Full Funding Act (introduced by Rep. Christopher Smith to mandate specific veterans health care proposals in every annual presidential budget proposal). Additionally, Congressman Pearce cosponsored H.R. 1231 (introduced by Rep. Tom Davis), which contained provisions permitting military retirees to exclude amounts paid for health insurance premiums from their taxable income. This bill also enabled our current men and women in uniform to deduct their expenses paid for supplemental health insurance.
Congressman Pearce continues to fight for additional measures that can improve the lives of our veterans and their families. Please click here for a table that describes the legislation Congressman Pearce has co-sponsored during the 109th Congress. This table also explains why Congressman Pearce has not cosponsored certain other legislative proposals that could impact veterans.
More hard work lies ahead. Despite the fact that Congress has increased spending on veterans programs by more than 75% during the last decade, veterans are receiving less – and a significant part of this problem is an inefficient and wasteful Veterans Administration bureaucracy.
Time and again, we learn the lesson that it’s not how much money we spend on federal programs – it’s how we spend the money. Congressman Pearce believes that Veterans deserve new thinking and redesigned programs.
Congressman Pearce is determined that we should reward the service of our veterans with
For example, our local health providers in Southern New Mexico could provide veterans better service for less cost right here at home. Yet, the federal government requires Southern New Mexico’s veterans to drive to Albuquerque – often hundreds of miles for many of them. Hence, we wind up paying for their gas instead of paying local physicians for veterans’ health care. To help address this problem, Congressman Pearce has introduced H.R. 6036, the HEALTHY Vets Act, which directs the VA to contract with local doctors and healthcare providers in order to serve veterans who live far away from VA medical facilities.
smarter decisions that rebuild confidence in our commitment to them.