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Congressman Ralph Abraham

Representing the 5th District of Louisiana

Abraham's "American Heroes COLA Act" passes House

February 9, 2016
Press Release
Bill allows for automatic cost of living adjustments for veterans

WASHINGTON – A bill authored by Congressman Ralph Abraham, M.D., R-Alto and chairman of the Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs, unanimously passed the full House of Representatives on Tuesday, Feb. 9.

Dr. Abraham’s “American Heroes COLA Act” would provide an automatic cost of living adjust for veterans each year such an adjustment is applicable. This is a change from the current law, which requires an act of Congress each year to make a COLA adjustment.

The “American Heroes COLA Act” requires that whenever there is a cost of living increase in the benefit amounts payable under the Social Security Act, the secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs shall increase by the same percentage the amounts payable as veterans’ disability compensation, compensation for dependents, clothing allowance for certain disabled adult children, and dependency and indemnity compensation for surviving spouses and children.

“The American Heroes COLA Act is a bill that’s been a long time coming. Our veterans have earned - and deserve - the right not to be dependent on the whims of Congress to see that their basic needs are met. I appreciate the efforts of Rep. Dina Titus and our fellow VA Committee members in passing this important bipartisan legislation that will benefit our nation’s heroes,” Dr. Abraham said.

Titus, the ranking member of the subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs, said, “Unlike with Social Security COLA increases, Congress must act each year to provide veterans with the COLA increases they need and deserve. Our nation’s heroes should receive these increases automatically each year, in a timely fashion, removed from the political vagaries of Capitol Hill. By permanently adjusting benefits to include cost of living increases, we are providing critical peace of mind to those who have bravely served this country. I’m proud to have worked with Rep. Abraham on legislation that will protect the financial security of disabled veterans and their families.”

"Our veterans put their lives on the line to protect our freedoms and have earned the benefits they were promissed. This is a simple way to improve the delivery of those benefits by fixing a process that unnecessarily holds our heroes hostage to a dysfunctional Congress. I commend Congressman Abraham for offering a meaningful solution, and I proudly support its passage to help bring peace of mind to many veterans and their families," said Rep. Garret Graves, R-Baton Rouge.

"Our veterans have earned high-quality care and benefits through their service to our country. While a dollar buys less every day, the benefits of our disabled veterans have stayed the same. That's just not right. I thank Dr. Abraham for authoring this important legislation, and I look forward to working with him to improve care for our veterans across the United States," said Rep. Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette.

"The Veterans Administration currently has many claims pending for various types of benefits, and this bill will help address that backlog, as well as reform claims processing procedures. We owe a great debt to our nation's veterans and their spouses, dependents and survivors and I'm glad to support Rep. Abraham's legislation to ensure they receive the care they deserve," said Rep. John Fleming, R-Minden.

The bill will now head to the Senate where it will likely be assigned to the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs.