U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., who has been the vice chairman of the U.S. House Veterans Affairs Committee before the Democrats flipped the House in November, brought out a proposal to “ensure veterans are able to receive both their VA disability compensation and their military retired pay, eliminating the unfair offset between the two benefits.”
Bilirakis brought back the “Retired Pay Restoration Act,” which the Florida Republican has pushed before but never got over the finish line, on Tuesday. U.S. Rep. Tusli Gabbard, D-Hawaii, is cosponsoring the legislation.
On Wednesday, Bilirakis weighed in on his proposal and why he continued to champion it.
“Our nation’s veterans have earned and deserve the utmost respect, best possible services and care for the sacrifices they and their families have made to defend this country - especially under the constant threat of global terrorism,” Bilirakis said. “However, under current law, some military retirees have their disability pay deducted from their retirement pay, which is unconscionable. These are two completely different benefits, and it is wrong for them to count against one another. Plain and simply, it isn’t right to deny veterans the financial compensation they have earned and deserve.”
With Democrats now in charge of the House, Bilirakis said he was happy to have a supporter from the other side of the aisle.
“I am honored and grateful to have Representative Tulsi Gabbard working alongside me this year, in a bi-partisan manner, to champion this important cause. I am hopeful that with our combined efforts, this will be the year we are able to finally rectify this injustice,” said Bilirakis.
The American Legion and other veterans groups are backing the legislation.
“Representative Bilirakis and Gabbard’s introduction of legislation to repeal the remaining vestiges of the disabled veterans tax, known as concurrent receipt, continues a decades-long endeavor to reverse a gross injustice. With passage of this bill by Congress, eligible veterans will never have to choose between payment for their service or the debt owed to them for their sacrifices,” said American Legion National Commander Brett Reistad said.
The bill has been sent to the House Veterans Affairs and the Armed Services Committees. So far, there is no counterpart over in the Senate.