Two weeks from today, House Republicans will travel to the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa and Marina in Cambridge, MD in an attempt to plan their legislative year and of course a strategy for maintaining their majority.
They will do so after 64 of their number refused Wednesday to vote for the "omnibus" $1.1 trillion dollar spending bill, the broad outlines of which were hammered out with Senate Democrats by Wisconsin's Paul Ryan but the details of which were the work of Kentucky's Hal Rogers who chairs the Appropriations Committee. Many of the "no" votes came from fiscal hawks, but a few came from members outraged that their party would break faith with the men and women who have been fighting the war for a dozen years. These members refused to throw the military under the omnibus. Most House GOP members didn't blink from doing so.
The bill included a cut to the retirement pay of career military, earned only if the individual soldier, sailor, airman or Marine had served at least 20 years, and the cut is big. A master sergeant or a senior chief --the sort of NCOs who are the backbone of the military-- were penalized by between $80,000 and $100,000 over the next 20 years if they retire in 2016 at, say, age 45 after 25 years of service. These men and women will have deployed four to seven times during the war, will have often have had their families moved a double-digit number of times over their minimum 20 years of duty, their spouses will have had most chances at a career disrupted, and they will have missed untold numbers of births, birthdays, Christmases, school recitals and all the other things Americans take for granted. Somehow the GOP decided this was the only group to target in the omnibus just before they went on their "retreat." The. Only. Group.