12.08.10

Statement Of Senator Patrick Leahy On The Motion To Invoke Cloture On The Emergency Senior Citizens Relief Act of 2010

[Wednesday night the U.S. Senate failed to invoke cloture – to end a filibuster -- on a bill sponsored by Senator Bernie Sanders and cosponsored by Senator Patrick Leahy that would have supplemented Social Security payments with $250 per Social Security recipient to help make up for the fact that seniors, for the second year in a row, will not have a cost-of-living adjustment to their Social Security benefits.  Following is Leahy’s statement Wednesday urging a vote on the Sanders bill.]

 

Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy

On the Motion to Invoke Cloture on

S. 3985, the Emergency Senior Citizens Relief Act of 2010

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

On October 15, 2010, we learned that next year Social Security beneficiaries will not receive a cost of living adjustment for the second year in a row because of the economic deflation, rather than inflation, our economy experienced in 2010.  At a time when the economy continues to lag and seniors in Vermont and around the country will struggle to afford heat, food, and other daily living expenses, I believe strongly that Congress needs to act to help seniors who depend upon Social Security benefits.

For decades, Social Security has represented a strong commitment to our nation's seniors. Ever since Ida May Fuller of Vermont received the first Social Security check issued, vulnerable seniors have had a safety net to fall back on in retirement and to supplement individual retirement savings or pensions. Nearly 70 percent of beneficiaries depend on Social Security for at least half of their income, and Social Security is the sole source of income for 15 percent of recipients.

I was proud to join Senator Sanders once again in cosponsoring the Emergency Senior Citizens Relief Act, which would provide all Social Security recipients, railroad retirees, SSI beneficiaries and adults receiving veterans' benefits with a one-time additional check for $250 in 2010, similar to the payment beneficiaries received as a part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Today, we have the opportunity to move to debate this important emergency relief for America’s seniors.

This legislation would benefit 58 million Americans and over 120,000 Vermonters, far too many of whom have seen a decline in their living standards as the economy worsened.  The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare Foundation and the Economic Policy Institute issued a report this fall that showed similar payments included in the Recovery Act to seniors stimulated the economy and was an effective job creator.  A minority of Senators, however, plan on once again blocking this legislation from a full debate in the Senate.  The minority party seems content to bend over backwards to pass an extension of tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans, which will add hundreds of billions of dollars to the deficit, but helping seniors in tough economic times is just too costly a proposition. That is unfortunate, and I hope for enough support in the Senate to move this legislation forward.

By supporting this bill, Senators have the opportunity to express our continued commitment to providing a safety net to our nation's seniors and those with disabilities in this uncertain economy. I urge my fellow Senators to support the motion to invoke cloture on the Emergency Senior Citizens Relief Act.

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