Obama signs debt ceiling bill, calling for a possible renewal of veteran benefits

Courtesy of Sean Low
Courtesy of Sean Low

On February 15, President Obama signed the Temporary Debt Limit Extension Act. According to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the act allows the government to borrow money to fund its current legal obligations, especially funding military and government employee salaries until March of 2015. Concurrently, President Obama also signed another measure as part of the South Utah Valley Electric Conveyance Act to reduce cuts to veteran pensions.After the act expires, Congress must determine how much additional money the government can borrow from the Treasury to fund healthcare, education and other socio-economic programs to stay within the limits of its debt ceiling of more than 17 trillion dollars. Until the act expires, the government does not need to deliberate over a potential default, which is a failure to repay its loans to debtors. Before it was passed, the government had to worry about spending cuts to make up for the increasing costs of social welfare programs and stay within the debt ceiling. However, with its passage, the national debt will not be limited to a specified amount, and the government will not have to worry about spending cuts to certain social welfare programs.Congress members did not want to repeat last October’s government shutdown, so Republicans were less willing to force concessions from the Democrats during the bill’s passage. Before the Senate approved the debt ceiling bill, the Republican majority in the House of Representatives passed the act after their party did not agree on a joint plan. Without sufficient support for their plan, Republicans were left with limited options to either pass the bill without receiving concessions from the Democrats or face another deadlock.
According to Congress.gov, the military pension bill of the Conveyance Act, which was passed alongside the debt ceiling bill, amends last December’s Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013, which increased cuts to veteran pensions to reduce the government’s debt. The measure restores $7 billion in cost-of-living expenses for veterans under age 62 who have retired after twenty years of service. These funds primarily help veterans cope with inflation. However, because the pension cuts were active for only two months, the military pension bill is not expected to be a financial boon to many veterans, especially student veterans. During a phone interview, a representative at Irvine Valley College Veterans Services Center responded that it was not aware of the military pension bill’s provisions because the bill had little impact towards most of the veterans, who had not served for at least twenty years.
Written by ANDREW HONG
Staff Writer