Release: Senate Blocks $250 for Social Security

WASHINGTON, Dec. 8 – The Senate today voted 53 to 45 for a proposal by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to provide $250 payments to some 58 million Social Security recipients and disabled veterans, but the vote fell seven short of the 60 needed to overcome a Republican filibuster and advance the bill.

“I am very disappointed that we were unable to get the votes needed to stop a Republican filibuster,” Sanders said. “It’s hard for me to understand how my Republican colleagues can fight for a million-dollar-a-year tax breaks for billionaires but deny a $250 check for seniors and disabled veterans, especially at a time of rapidly rising health care costs.”

Without action by Congress, there will be no cost-of-living adjustments for retirees and the disabled for only the second time since 1975, when a law took effect linking benefits to inflation. The outdated formula for calculating living costs does not accurately take into account the budgets of senior citizens who spend a disproportionate amount on increasingly expensive health care and prescription drugs.

Before the vote, the White House issued a statement strongly supporting Sanders’ proposal. “This bill would ensure that seniors, veterans, and people with disabilities receive a one-time $250 payment in 2011 and would support individuals struggling in the face of the economic downturn.  Over 2009 and 2010, most of these individuals also benefited from a similar one-time payment.  Passage of this legislation would help approximately 58 million of those Americans hit hardest by the recession.”

The bill also was supported by every major seniors and veterans groups in the country including AARP, the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.