A new two-year budget deal, signed into law by President Barack Obama on Thursday, includes a controversial cut to some military pensions.
The budget saves an estimated $6.2 billion over ten years by cutting the cost of living adjustment (COLA) for some military retirees by one percent every year. That's the system used to keep pensions in line with inflation. The cut in future growth affects veterans with more than 20 years of experience, but under the retirement age of 62.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel recently defended the cuts.
"We all know that we need to slow cost growth in military compensation," Hagel told reporters on December 19. "Otherwise we'll have to make disproportionate cuts to military readiness and modernization. DOD cannot sustain these current programs as they are structured."
Still, in Fayetteville, home to Fort Bragg, the news was not popular with a number of people we spoke with on Thursday night.
"These people have risked their lives for us. We need to find something else to cut," Lenae Sullivan said.
"They work very hard and they serve our country and we need to honor them and respect that," Christy Wagner said.
"They're getting injured, trying to defend our country, as they're supposed to, and they're getting shafted," Tya Thompson said.
One veteran of the Gulf War, who said he wanted to remain anonymous because he's a federal employee, said the cuts will add up over time.
"I've spent over 20 years in the military and I'm also a disabled veteran and my family can't do without that one percent. It's what we live on," he said.
Some lawmakers have vowed to try and reverse the pension cuts when they return to Washington in the new year. One bill, already introduced in the House of Representatives, would restore the cuts and partially replace the savings by closing a tax loophole that allows illegal immigrants to claim a child tax credit. North Carolina Republican Representatives Richard Hudson and Walter Jones are co-sponsors. Democrat Representative David Price has also co-sponsored a bill to restore the cut.
North Carolina Senator Richard Burr voted against the budget. Senator Kay Hagan voted for it, but has already introduced legislation to restore the cut.
In the House of Representatives, Democrats G.K. Butterfield and David Price voted for the budget, along with Republicans Howard Coble, Patrick McHenry, Robert Pittenger, Renee Ellmers, Virginia Foxx and Richard Hudson. Republicans George Holding, Walter Jones, and Mark Meadows voted against the budget along with Democrats Mel Watt and Mike McIntyre.