Bill to eliminate WEP, GPO hits a snag

The process of repealing the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and Government Pension Offset programs reached another obstacle earlier this week.

The bill, H.R. 82, received 291 co-sponsors in July to send the resolution up for a House vote.

However, instead of the bill automatically going to the House floor for a vote, it was placed on the House’s consensus calendar, according to Congressman Rodney Davis, the bill’s author.

“We met their threshold, we got over 290 co-sponsors on a very important piece of legislation that many constituencies have asked for, for decades to solve the problems created by people who walked these halls before we did,” Davis (R-IL) said. “These provisions unfairly punish families who have worked hard to serve our country and serve our government. And there is tremendous bipartisan support for fixing these provisions. Or so they’ve said.”

Once a motion is filed to place a bill on the consensus calendar, another 25 legislative days must pass before the bill is officially added to the calendar. Once added, the House must consider a bill from the calendar each week as long as there are bills on it.

“They said if you get enough co-sponsors, you will be able to get a floor vote on something that is that important to this many members of Congress,” Davis said. “Well, they chose a different route. But instead, what that did is it took our automatic floor vote away from being forced on the majority. This is a delay tactic and nothing more.”

WEP applies to people who receive a pension from a government job such as teachers, first responders, and state or parish employees in Louisiana. If the employee worked anywhere outside the government job such as a grocery store and contributed to social security, when it comes time to receive SS, that employee is only getting a portion of what he/she put in.

The employee’s spouse is also penalized. Compare that to his/her co-workers who never worked for the government and would receive 100% of the social security benefits. GPO reduces the spousal benefits of most people who also get pensions based on government employment not covered by social security.

“To have 300 bipartisan members of Congress supporting something, this must be a good idea, something about it must be right,” said Rep. Garret Graves. “And to see what just happened this week, it was a delay tactic. This was a tactic to kick the can down the road to do nothing.

“We’ve got to keep in mind that for 40 years, these people’s money has been stolen,” Graves continued. “It has been stolen and diverted into inflating the social security trust fund. Yes, there is a fundamental problem with the trust fund and it needs to be addressed. But these people’s money has been stolen for 40 years. This is an injustice.”

To combat the bill’s move to the consensus calendar, Davis said they are going to file a discharge petition. A discharge petition can have the bill removed from the committee it was referred to and sent to the floor for a vote. Discharge petitions were created to prevent a committee from killing a bill by holding it too long. H.R. 82 was held up in the Ways and Means Committee.

Davis said members can begin signing the petition on Sept. 30.

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