Multiple Bills in Congress Pushing for a 3.9% COLA in 2016

Lawmakers in both the House and the Senate are pushing to give federal retirees a 3.9% cost of living adjustment next year.

Legislation has been introduced in both the House and the Senate to provide retired federal employees with a 3.9% cost of living adjustment in 2016.

If this bill sounds familiar, it is because similar legislation was already recently introduced in the House on two separate occasions by Alan Grayson (D-FL).

Grayson’s first bill was introduced in October which would provide retirees with a 2.9% COLA. This was known as the Seniors Deserve a Raise Act (H.R. 3761). It has gone nowhere so far and is not likely to in light of the other subsequent bills that have been put forth on the issue.

Grayson’s second bill was introduced on November 16 and is known as the Seniors and Veterans Emergency (SAVE) Benefits Act (H.R. 4012). It is companion legislation to Elizabeth Warren’s Senate bill (S. 2251), introduced on November 5.

But now, Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) is jumping on board as well. She introduced another companion bill under the same name on December 1 (H.R. 4144) to provide the same 3.9% COLA.

All of the aforementioned bills are being put forth in response to the news that there will not be a COLA provided to retirees in 2016.

Grayson’s first bill that called for a 2.9% COLA would have tied future COLAs to the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E), an index which weighs more heavily the items on which seniors tend to spend their money, such as medical expenses in order to provide the increase.

However, the new bills calling for a 3.9% COLA would raise the necessary funds by preventing companies from deducting executive bonuses from their taxes so long as those bonuses are performance-related, something the lawmakers say is a tax loophole that should be closed. They also said it isn’t fair that CEOs at American corporations are receiving bonuses and raises while retirees are not.

“Giving our seniors and veterans a 3.9% raise, the average raise CEOs at the top 350 American companies got last year, is an important step to righting this wrong. It will also help our economy, as it puts money into the hands of people who will spend it,” Grayson said in a statement.

Both House bills appear to do exactly the same thing, so it’s not immediately clear (to this author at least) why two separate bills were introduced on different dates. Duckworth’s bill does have more co-sponsors than Grayson’s, so if nothing else it is showing extra support for the desire to have the legislation passed.

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.