Political briefs – July 26

Staff report



BROWN HELPS PASS BILL THROUGH COMMITTEE TO GIVE A COST OF LIVING INCREASE TO VETERANS – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs passed legislation through the committee to increase veterans’ benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) based on the rising cost of living. The Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2015, which Brown cosponsored, would increase the rates of VA disability compensation, dependency compensation for surviving children and spouses, and the clothing allowance for veterans.

“As the cost of living continues to rise, the budgets of many veterans and their families are stretched to the breaking point,” Brown said. “Our nation’s disabled veterans have served their country with selflessness and courage. We must honor their sacrifice and ensure that they and their families receive the benefits they deserve.”

This cost-of-living adjustment, which is equal to the amount of the adjustment given to Social Security recipients, is determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index on a yearly basis. The cost-of-living adjustment for veterans would go into effect on December 1, 2015. Brown has cosponsored the annual veterans Cost-of Living Adjustment every year in the Senate since 2008.

BROWN ANNOUNCES BILL TO EXPAND FEDERAL CIVIL RIGHTS LAWS TO PROTECT AGAINST DISCRIMINATION ON THE BASIS OF SEXUAL ORIENTATION AND GENDER IDENTITY – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) cosponsored a bill to expand federal civil rights laws to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Though the LGBT community has made significant legal advances, many states do not have explicit non-discrimination laws, leaving some in the LGBT community without protection. The Equality Act would prohibit discrimination in public accommodations, education, federal financial assistance, employment, housing, credit, and federal jury service.

“Our country has recently made great strides towards equality for LGBT Americans but, despite continued discrimination, the federal government has yet to recognize them as a protected class,” Brown said. “All Americans, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, deserve access to essentials like education, housing, and employment. This long overdue legislation will give our LGBT neighbors, friends, and family the federal protection against discrimination that they deserve.”

The Equality Act would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in public accommodations, during the federal financial assistance process, and in employment. LGBT individuals would be further protected under the Equality Act by the amendment of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, the Government Employee Rights Act of 1991, and the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995.

The bill would also amend the Jury Selection and Services Act to prohibit discrimination in federal jury service based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

AS FINANCE COMMITTEE CONSIDERS PENSION BENEFIT GUARANTY CORPORATION NOMINEE, BROWN PRESSES AGENCY TO GIVE DELPHI SALARIED RETIREES ANSWERS REGARDING THEIR EARNED BENEFITS – As the Senate Finance Committee holds its hearing to consider W. Thomas Reeder, Jr. to serve as Director of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) urged the agency to provide its final benefit determinations for Delphi salaried retirees.

“For years Delphi salaried retirees from Mahoning Valley to Miami Valley have been left without clear answers about the pensions and benefits that they earned through their hard work,” said Brown. “They were promised these benefits and now the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation owes these retirees answers. How can these retirees plan for their future and support their family if they don’t have a final answer about their benefits? As we consider Mr. Reeder’s confirmation to lead the PBGC, I hope he will consider the thousands of Ohioans that are counting on him to act as he has promised so they can received their earned benefits.”

When Delphi’s defined benefit pension plan was terminated, 20,000 Delphi salaried retirees lost up to 70 percent in benefits, including 5,000 Ohioans. Of the 5,000 Delphi salaried retirees and their families in Ohio, about 1,500 are in the Mahoning Valley, 2,000 are in the Dayton area, and a majority of the remaining 1,500 are in Columbus and Sandusky. Retirees still await a final determination regarding their benefits.


Staff report