Social Security Fairness

Floor Speech

Date: Sept. 21, 2022
Location: Washington, DC


Ms. LETLOW. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to express disappointment and frustration of thousands of my constituents after our effort to bring H.R. 82, the Social Security Fairness Act, to the floor for a vote, which was delayed this week.

The Windfall Elimination Provision and the Government Pension Offset are unfair, bureaucratic deductions that cheat nearly 2 million Americans out of their earned Social Security benefits.

These rules impact our public servants--the teachers who educate our children, firefighters and police officers who keep our communities safe. At a time when we desperately need more men and women to enter these fields, knowing these penalties exist deter them from pursuing these occupations.

WEP and GPO have been in place since the 1980s and Congress has ignored this problem for decades. I want to be clear, we are not trying to create new entitlement programs or forgive debt. We are trying to ensure that retirees obtain the benefits that are rightly theirs.

Just last week, I received a letter from Carla Moreau, a teacher from Bunkie, Louisiana, who retired after spending 23 years in the classroom.

Carla recently lost her husband, Gerard, to cancer at age 60. However, due to WEP and GPO, she is ineligible to receive his Social Security survivor benefits simply because she was a teacher. If Carla had chosen any other profession outside of public service, she would automatically receive those benefits just like any other American would.

Mr. Speaker, Carla's story is just one of the many from across my district and around our country, and each one is heartbreaking and unjust. Not a single day goes by that I don't hear from a constituent who is impacted.

Since I took office over 1 year ago, almost 3,000 people have contacted my office to ask us to fix WEP and GPO--by far, the most calls concerning a single issue.

High inflation and record price hikes continue to plague our Nation, and now, by refusing to address WEP and GPO, this Congress is essentially telling hardworking Americans that they must either not retire, reenter the workforce, or find other means to make ends meet.

It is astounding to me that this administration and the Democratic majority spend trillions to forgive student loans, bail out private industry, and create new government programs, but the people impacted by WEP and GPO continue to be ignored.

My colleague from Illinois, Rodney Davis, brought forward H.R. 82 to repeal WEP and GPO. I am a proud cosponsor of this bill, along with nearly 300 other Members of this House.

Since the 117th Congress convened, we worked together as Democrats and Republicans to find a way to bring this bill to the floor for a vote. After nearly a year and a half of being denied, we worked to have it placed on the Consensus Calendar, a process that could force the bill to come to the House floor.

Only when we were on the cusp of forcing a floor vote and had 300 Members ready to support this measure did Democratic leadership take action to remove the legislation from the Consensus Calendar and essentially bog it down in a backlog.

Mr. Speaker, it is unconscionable to me that some would play procedural games and deny this body the opportunity to vote on a bill that fixes such an obvious wrong.

What am I supposed to say to the people like Carla Moreau? That despite the fact that we were sent here to solve problems, we will just kick the can down the road?

Is that really the answer that we are okay with relaying to her and the 2 million Americans who are adversely impacted?

Mr. Speaker, I was sent here to represent the people of the Fifth District of Louisiana, and today, I can say with grave sincerity that their voices, along with 2 million other Americans, continue to be silenced.

Instead of my standing behind this podium today, we should be doing the will of the people and bringing H.R. 82 to the floor for a vote.