U.S. Rep. Shimkus explains votes on debt ceiling, vets' pensions

News-DemocratFebruary 13, 2014 

U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville, broke ranks twice Tuesday with a pair of votes in the U.S. House.

In voting to raise the nation's debt limit, Shimkus parted ways with the majority of fellow Republicans to help pass measure that was narrowly voted out of the House, 220-201.

And in voting against a measure to reverse cuts in cost-of-living increases for veterans under age 62, Shimkus, a West Point graduate and Army veteran, broke with the veterans groups whom he has staunchly supported in the past.

That bill passed, 326 to 90.

Shimkus said he voted to raise the debt ceiling by noting the budget approved in December, and the appropriations bill passed in January implied raising the debt limit.

So "how do you then turn around in February and say no to raising the debt limit?" he wrote.

As for his vote against reversing some military pension COLA cuts, Shimkus said he was heeding the calls of military commanders. They want to slow down future retirement obligations because they are "are affecting military readiness."

Shimkus noted that the budget deal crafted by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, and U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., slowed veterans cost of living increases but did not reduce base retirement pay.

"This was also a first attempt at addressing the mandatory spending part of the ledger, which is the real cause of our overall fiscal crisis," Shimkus said of his vote. "If we as members cannot address this small change in mandatory spending, how will we ever address the true drivers of our national debt -- Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and interest payments on our debt?"

Contact reporter Mike Fitzgerald at mfitzgerald@bnd.com or 618-239-2533.

Contact reporter Mike Fitzgerald at mfitzgerald@bnd.com or 618-239-2533.

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