House panel wary of plan for disabled vets' benefits

The House Budget Committee, in a memo distributed to GOP members this afternoon, advised members to be wary of a proposed leadership plan to solve the concurrent receipt issue for veterans.

House Majority Whip Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and GOP leadership have been trying to work out an agreement that would allow veterans to collect both retirement and disability benefits, which is disallowed under current law.

The memo, obtained by CongressDaily, said the committee is "skeptical of the savings estimates ... in light of conversations we have had with CBO and the [OMB]."

Details of the plan were unclear, but one source said GOP leaders have proposed a plan to provide $40 billion for concurrent receipt, paid for by $51 billion in offsets in reforms. It would provide for a phase-in for veterans, something opposed by veterans' groups and Democrats.

Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., said Friday he would place his name on a discharge petition in the next couple of weeks if the White House and GOP leaders do not resolve the issue. Rep. Jim Marshall, D-Ga., has submitted a discharge petition that would force a House vote on a bill authored by Rep. Michael Bilirakis, R-Fla.

Veterans service organizations during the break have increased pressure on congressional Republicans to act. In the Senate, Minority Whip Harry Reid, D-Nev., called the House GOP leadership plan an effort to avoid restoring "full benefits" to disabled veterans. The Senate has passed benefits legislation for three straight years, Reid said.

NEXT STORY: Politics of Pay