Military pension bill advances in Senate

WASHINGTON – The Senate took the first step toward approving legislation that restores full cost of living increases to pension benefits for military retirees younger than age 62, although it’s unclear when the measure may pass.

Monday’s vote was 94-0 to advance the bill over an initial hurdle.

As drafted by majority Democrats, the $7 billion, 10-year cost of the legislation would add to the deficit. Republicans want cuts elsewhere in the budget to prevent that from happening.

The measure would reverse one part of a budget bill that cleared Congress late last year. Under the provision, cost-of-living increases in pension benefits for military retirees under age 62 would be held below the rate of inflation beginning in 2015. Veterans groups have strongly protested the change.