Sen. Kay Hagan said on Tuesday that she will vote for final passage of the bipartisan budget agreement, basing her decision in part on requests from North Carolina military leaders.
The Senate cleared a procedural hurdle on Tuesday and was expected to vote and pass the measure on Wednesday.
Hagan said that she heard from top military leaders in North Carolina who urged Congress to support the plan because it got rid of the across-the-board cuts known as sequestration. North Carolina is home to two of the nation's largest military installations, Fort Bragg and Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.
“For too long, Washington has been paralyzed by partisan gridlock and lurched from crisis to crisis, causing tremendous uncertainty in our economy and stalling our recovery. Over the last several days I have heard directly from top leadership in North Carolina's military community regarding the importance of avoiding the harsh and unnecessary cuts from sequestration and urging support for this bipartisan bill,” Hagan said.
“For these reasons, I will be supporting the bipartisan budget agreement reached by Congressman Paul Ryan and Senator Patty Murray,” she said. “While no bill is perfect, it is time for Congress to stop the political games, end sequestration, and come together on behalf of the American people."
Hagan’s office released a letter from Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson, the commanding general of the 18th Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg. Anderson urged her and other senators to vote for the budget deal and the upcoming National Defense Authorization Act “so that my soldiers, already serving in Afghanistan or about to deploy, will not have any lapses in funding or authorities.”
Anderson will deploy with the 18th Airborne Headquarters to Afghanistan in January. If confirmed by the Senate, he will become the commander of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Joint Command in Kabul.
With the Army still at war in Afghanistan and in harm’s way in other places, the Senate must act to make sure that soldiers are fully paid, equipped and given the support they need, Anderson wrote. A hand-written note on the bottom of the letter said, “We appreciate your continued support of our soldiers and families!”
North Carolina's other senator, Republican Richard Burr, has indicated that he will vote against the budget deal because he said it didn't do enough to reduce the national debt.
The budget deal includes a reduction in cost-of-living adjustments in retirement benefits for working-age military retirees that would take effect in 2015. Hagan’s staff said she is opposed to that provision and hopes to find a way to get rid of the pension cut. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., has said the committee would review the changes before they take effect.
The Senate voted on Tuesday night on a Republican measure that would have allowed the addition of an amendment to eliminate the reduction in benefits for working-age military retirees. It failed 46-54. Hagan was the only Democrat who voted to support it. Burr also voted in favor.