Congressman John Garamendi

Representing the 3rd District of California
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Congressman Garamendi Disappointed that House Republicans Torpedoed $250 in Assistance for Seniors

December 8, 2010
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman John Garamendi (D-Walnut Creek, CA) today expressed disappointment that House Republicans blocked H.R. 5987, the Seniors Protection Act, which would have provided 54 million seniors, including close to six million Californians, with a one-time payment of $250. The legislation was intended to make up for the lack of an automatic Cost-of-Living-Adjustment for America's seniors in 2011. It had majority support with a 254-153 vote, but under House rules, it required a two-thirds vote to pass. 228 Democrats voted for the legislation, while 141 Republicans voted against it.

"Let me get this straight. Congressional Republicans think that we can afford tax cuts for rich millionaires and billionaires at a rate of $79 billion a year without paying for them, but that we can't afford to help seniors, millions of whom are very low income, at a rate of $14 billion when the cost is offset with PAYGO?" Congressman Garamendi stated.

"Today the American people saw a clear contrast in values," Garamendi added. "I think seniors who toiled for decades to create the America we love deserve to retire with dignity and financial security. My Republican colleagues unfortunately have different priorities."

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that these payments will cost $14 billion.  Under the bill, the cost would be offset by some of savings included in earlier legislation that are tallied on the PAYGO scorecard. 

For the first time ever, 2011 will be the second consecutive year that Social Security retirees and other beneficiaries will receive no automatic increase in their monthly Social Security, SSI, VA Pension and Compensation, and Railroad Retirement benefits.  This is a result of economic conditions. Over the past decade, these cost of living adjustments have averaged 3 percent per year.

The fiscally responsible legislation enjoys broad support from veterans and seniors organizations, including AARP, Alliance for Retired Americans, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, the Disabled American Veterans, and Military Officers Association of America.

The median income for senior households is just $24,000. Six in ten seniors rely on Social Security for more than half of their income, and about a third of retirees have little other than Social Security on which to live.