WASHINGTON, DC (KALB) – Louisiana Rep. Julia Letlow (R-District 5) and Garret Graves (R-District 6) held a press conference today to announce an effort to bring forward the Social Security Fairness Act (HR 82), after it was delayed for a vote by the House Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday.
HR 82 looks to eliminate the penalty for workers with government pensions and their spouses as it applies to social security benefits. Those workers include more than 2 million retired government workers like law enforcement, teachers and state workers. The current legislation, known as the Windfall Elimination Penalty (WEP) and Government Pension Offset (GPO), were implemented in the 1980s, preventing government workers from collecting full social security benefits.
Now, several House members, including Letlow and Graves, are pushing for HR 82 to be heard before Congress after it was delayed in the House committee.
In speaking with The Daily Advertiser, Letlow and Graves say the current law penalizes people from going into public service and is cheating Americans out of benefits they earned and paid into.
However, opponents to the bill argue that repealing the law will put more of a strain on social security and its future.
“These people’s money has been stolen. It has been stolen and diverted into inflating the Social Security trust fund,” said Graves. “Yes, there is a fundamental problem with the trust fund that needs to be addressed. But these people’s money has been stolen for 40 years. Well, tell me, this thing costs money. Yes, it costs their money that they’ve been paying. This is an injustice.”
At a press conference this morning, Letlow and Graves joined the bill’s author, Illinois Democrat Rodney Davis, to announce an effort to gain 218 signatures among colleagues to force a floor vote.
“I want the American people to hear us loudly that we’re going to continue this fight until it is fixed,” said Letlow.
After the House committee vote on Tuesday, Congressional members were not the only political leaders reacting to the result. State Rep. Mike Johnson (R-District 27) took to social media, writing, “Although I am disappointed in the leadership and how the people’s will has been procedurally denied, I am encouraged that this issue has gotten unprecedented national attention and formed unity among Americans who have served the public as vital employees who have paid into Social Security yet denied their earned benefits.”
Johnson went on to say, “Although today was not a win, I am convinced we are much closer to repealing the unfair WEP & GPO benefits owed to our teachers, police, firefighters, first responders, letter carriers, and public retirees.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has not yet scheduled a floor vote for the legislation. It is not clear yet if supporting members will have the support to get the bill on the floor for a vote.
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