Release: Senators Challenge McConnell on Social Security

To read the Senators' letter, click here.

WASHINGTON, Oct. 19 - Twenty senators - including Majority Leader Harry Reid - today asked Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell to support $250 in emergency relief to more than 50 million seniors and disabled Americans facing a second straight year with no increase in Social Security benefits.

"We hope that you will agree with us that it is far more important to provide $250 in emergency relief to senior citizens and disabled veterans than it is to provide an average tax break of over $100,000 a year to taxpayers earning more than $1 million a year," the senators said in the letter to McConnell (R-Ky.).

The letter was circulated by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). In addition to Reid, others signing the letter include Sens. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Byron L. Dorgan (D-N.D.), Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y), Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Patty Murray (D-WA), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).

Reid (D-Nev.) on Friday said he intends to ask the Senate for a boost in Social Security payments when Congress reconvenes in November.  President Obama also has called for a $250 payment to seniors and people with disabilities.

Unless Congress acts, 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 The outdated formula does not accurately take into account the budgets of senior citizens who spend a disproportionate amount of their income on health care and prescription drugs.

"Congress will soon be debating the extension of the Bush tax cuts and whether or not we should be providing $700 billion in tax breaks over the next 10 years to the top 2 percent of income earners.  We should note that the estimated $13 billion cost of emergency relief this year to our seniors is only a fraction of the $70 billion in average annual tax breaks over the next decade that would go to the wealthiest two percent of Americans if all of these tax breaks are extended," the letter said.

"Therefore, we are writing to ask that you join us in supporting legislation as soon as the Senate comes back into session to provide $250 in emergency relief to our nation's most vulnerable senior citizens and disabled veterans to help them pay for their increased cost of living," the senators wrote to McConnell.

The Senate last March 3 blocked a Sanders amendment to provide a $250 payment to Social Security recipients and others.  Only one Republican senator voted for Sanders' amendment.   

To read the entire letter, click here.