Election Stalls GPO/WEP Progress

NOVEMBER 2004
- Members Urged To Remain Vigilant - Now that the 2004 Presidential Election is just weeks away, progress
on the Government Pension Offset (GPO) and Windfall Elimination
Provision (WEP) laws has stalled before the Congress.

In
typical election year fashion, nearly all business in Washington D.C.
has ground to a halt in anticipation of both the presidential and
congressional elections. While Congress does reconvene after the
November 2 election, it is unlikely that a major issue, like Social
Security, would be taken up.

"Even
though we knew that things would slow down once the election cycle got
fully underway, it is still frustrating," explained Association
Legislative Liaison Shawn Duhamel. "This is an issue that is extremely
important to a great number of our members. Many retirees are loosing
thousands of dollars a year from a benefit that they earned and paid
for.

"Members who are impacted by
either the GPO or WEP should know that we are doing everything possible
to resolve these issues. We continue to work with other states and the
various coalitions that exist to keep the debate alive."

Despite
the lull in activity, members are asked to remain vigilant. Association
officers want to remind members that we are locked in a grassroots
battle to educate and influence Congress to change the laws hurting
public retirees.

Discharge Falters

The
number of Congressmen, supporting the petition (H. Res. 523) to
discharge H.R. 594, remains at 192. As we have previously reported, 218
cosponsors (a majority) are needed in order to force a bill from a
committee and onto the House floor for a vote. Once on the House floor,
a bill also needs 218 votes (51 in the US Senate) in order to pass.

Those
members, who are supporting our efforts on the GPO/WEP repeal, know
that the key congressional committee, central to the issue, is the
Subcommittee on Social Security. The Subcommittee is chaired by E. Clay
Shaw, the powerful Republican Congressman from Ft. Lauderdale. While
Shaw and his staff have had an open ear with our Association's
officials, the chairman has not moved any of the repeal bills beyond
his committee.

Shaw remains focused
on his own WEP reform bill, H.R. 4391. While the proposal would not
repeal the WEP outright, it makes important changes to how one's basic
Social Security benefit is calculated. As we reported earlier, after
analyzing the newly proposed formula, we feel that the bill does not go
far enough in restoring a retiree's lost benefits. H.R. 4391 also does
not address the issue of the GPO.

Republican
Congressional leaders have held the line on any bill that would
increase the costs borne by the Social Security system. The
Congressional Budget Office (CBO), along with the Social Security
Administration, have estimated that the 10-year cost of a full fledged
repeal of both the GPO and WEP would cost $65 billion.

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