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Vets' pension measure heads for likely Senate vote

NORFOLK, Va. — A measure that would cancel plans to give smaller pension increases to working-age veterans is expected to be considered by the U.S. Senate this week.

Senators agreed, 94-0, Monday night to proceed with a floor debate and vote.

The legislation proposes to set aside plans to cut 1 percentage point of the annual cost-of-living increase added to the pensions of military retirees younger than 62.

The bill in its current form doesn't specify where the government would get the $6 billion needed over the next 10 years to pay for a 1 percentage point increase.

The reduction, which doesn't take effect until December 2015, was part of a larger budget bill approved in December and aimed at reducing the impact of automatic defense cuts, known as sequestration.

Many legislators, including Virginia's congressional delegation, voted for the budget deal but said they didn't like the pension limitation and promised to revoke it later.

Veterans groups and their supporters also have deluged Congress with complaints, saying the restriction unfairly targets veterans.

Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, both Virginia Democrats, have proposed replacing the $6 billion by closing tax loopholes that allow U.S. firms to avoid paying taxes on overseas operations.

"Today's vote gives me hope that we can reach a bipartisan consensus and repeal these reductions that would harm military families in Virginia and across the country," Kaine said.
 

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