Retirees Keep Pressure On Congress

JULY 2004
- Mass. Delegation On Board - Members from all corners of the country have received the message put
forth by Association President Ralph White - to keep the pressure on
your local Congressman to repeal both the Government Pension Offset
(GPO) and the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP).

Over
the past several months, we have heard from scores of members who have
taken the time to either call, write or email their Congressman. Some
members have even gone so far as to meet directly with their member of
Congress.

Given the buzz that now
exists on Capital Hill surrounding the efforts to repeal the GPO and
WEP, it is obvious that Association members are having a direct impact
on the debate. Instead of keeping the issue out of the public eye and
locked away in Committee, members of Congress have been actively
engaged on the issue throughout the spring.

"On
top of what we are doing in Washington, through the work of our
professional lobbyists, is the tremendous grassroots effort by
individual members. When elected officials hear directly from the
people who are being hurt by these two laws, the message hits home,"
explained White. "Given everything that is before the Congress at this
time, it is an encouraging sign that these issues are being openly
discussed."

Discharge Petition Advances

In
the May edition of the Voice, it was reported that a movement was
underway in the US House of Representatives that would force a vote on
legislation repealing both the GPO and WEP laws. The formal process to
force a bill to be released from a committee and voted upon by the full
house is called a discharge petition.

Due
to the heavy pressure being put upon the Congress from retired and
active public employees from the seven highly affected states
(California, Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Ohio, and
Texas), Congressman Jim Turner (D-Texas) filed the discharge petition,
House Resolution 523, on March 10.

On
that day, Massachusetts Congressmen Ed Markey, Jim McGovern, and John
Tierney were among the first to sign the petition as cosponsors. They
were quickly joined on March 11 by Congressmen Bill Delahunt, Steve
Lynch, and John Olver. Since that time, Congressmen Marty Meehan,
Barney Frank, Mike Capuano, and Richard Neal have joined their
colleagues as cosponsors of the discharge petition.

In
order for the petition to be successful, a majority of Congressmen
(218) have to first sign on as cosponsors. Once a majority is reached,
the discharge petition would go into effect, forcing H.R. 594 to be
released by the Subcommittee on Social Security. H.R. 594 repeals both
the GPO and WEP, allowing retirees to receive a Social Security benefit
based on the normal benefit formula.

"It
is a very good sign to have the support of all ten Massachusetts
Congressmen on the discharge petition. Even though getting to the magic
number of 218 cosponsors is going to be difficult, it is important that
our Congressmen are leading the way," said the Association's
Legislative Liaison Shawn Duhamel. "With the cost of a full repeal
estimated to be close to $65 billion over ten years, the Republican
Leadership in the House is fearful of the bill making it to the floor."

"At
press time 158 congressmen have signed onto the discharge petition, all
are Democrats. It's obvious that the Republican leadership and Clay
Shaw have slammed the door on any of their members signing the
petition. We are a bipartisan organization, but on this one the
Republicans have been of no help," White pointed out.

Tags: