Vote Sought On GPO/WEP Repeal

MAY 2004 - Association Presses Congress to Act - With
much of Washington now focused on the ongoing Presidential and
Congressional election campaigns, the Association has stepped up its
efforts to press for action on both the Government Pension Offset (GPO)
and Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) laws.

Joining
with our partners in the Coalition to Assure Retirement Equity (CARE),
the Association has called upon the Massachusetts congressional
delegation to sign onto and support a move to force a vote in the US
House of Representatives on H.R. 594.

What
we have called on the ten Massachusetts Congressmen to do, is cosponsor
what is known in Congress as a discharge petition, that effectively
will force H.R. 594 to the floor of the House for debate and a vote.
This particular discharge petition is H.RES. 523, which instructs the
House Subcommittee on Social Security to release the bill.

In
order for a discharge petition to be successful, at least 218 of the
435 members of Congress must approve of the discharge petition.
Currently, there are 290 congressmen supporting H.R. 594, the bill we
are attempting to discharge.

As
members know, H.R. 594 would repeal both the GPO and WEP laws,
therefore allowing those impacted retirees to collect both their full
pension and full Social Security benefit without penalty. The bill has
been under review by the Subcommittee since a public hearing on the
matter was held during the spring of 2003.

"It
may be a tough sell to move a major bill during an election year, but
our members cannot sit back and wait for things to be politically
convenient. Many retirees are having a tough time getting by after
losing their Social Security benefits," explained Association President
Ralph White.

"It's time to find out
if the 290 members of Congress who say they support H.R.594 are willing
to take the next step and force it to the floor for a vote. Win or
lose, pushing this bill to a vote is the right thing to do."

Bumpy Road

Members,
who are impacted by the GPO and/or WEP, are once again asked to contact
their US Congressman and urge them to support our efforts to discharge
H.R. 594. While Association lobbyists are sure that the road ahead will
be a bumpy ride, it is important that Congress be forced to address the
matter.

"We were gaining before the
terrorist attacks on 9-11 and again late last year. Unfortunately,
Social Security reforms keep getting pushed back as other issues come
up," said Association Legislative Liaison Shawn Duhamel. "Our focus has
to be keeping this issue fresh in the minds of our elected officials.
Eventually, as the pressure mounts, they are going to have to act."

One
of the major stumbling blocks standing in the way of action being taken
on H.R. 594, or on one of the other GPO/WEP reform bills, is the large
costs involved. The Social Security Administration has estimated that a
full repeal, of both the GPO and WEP, would cost $65 billion over ten
years.

With the GPO/WEP laws mainly
impacting seven states (CA, CO, IL, LA, MA, OH and TX) and only
marginally impacting twenty-one others, the majority of states are not
widely affected. Therefore, it has proven an uphill battle moving
members of Congress, from unaffected states, to act on the repeal.

However,
there are large numbers of Federal retirees who live in every state.
These retirees are also hit by GPO/WEP. The National Association of
Retired Federal Employees (NARFE) has been a key ally on the national
level. Also, several federal unions are involved.

Closing The Gap

We
have contacted all of our 5,400 members in Florida and they, along with
other impacted retirees, have contacted their 25 congressmen. Five
immediately signed the discharge petition and we expect several others
to do so.

Members of CARE have been
active in every state, lobbying their congressmen. Support in the
sunbelt states has been strong, and also in California where 18
congressmen signed the petition on the first day it was available.

At
press time, 137 congressmen have signed H.RES. 523, the discharge
petition. We are rapidly closing the gap to reach the magic 218 number.

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