What: All Issues : Labor Rights : Rights of Public Employees : H.R. 743. Social Security Protection Act/Motion to Proceed to a Vote on the Rules Governing Debate on a Bill to Prevent Retired Public Employees in Texas and Georgia from Claiming the Retirement Benefits of a Dead Spouse. (2004 house Roll Call 22)
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H.R. 743. Social Security Protection Act/Motion to Proceed to a Vote on the Rules Governing Debate on a Bill to Prevent Retired Public Employees in Texas and Georgia from Claiming the Retirement Benefits of a Dead Spouse.
house Roll Call 22     Feb 11, 2004
Progressive Position:
Nay
Progressive Result:
Loss

Public employees in Texas and Georgia are not required to pay federal Social Security taxes and do not receive those benefits as a result; they are instead covered by state plans. If a spouse dies, however, public employees are in some cases eligible to receive their spouse's Social Security benefits. House Republican leaders viewed this as fraudulent and proposed legislation in 2003 to curb Social Security benefits for public employees in Texas and Georgia by requiring them to pay into the system for a minimum of five years to be eligible for full spousal benefits. Differences between the House and Senate versions the bill, however, were not reconciled in conference committee and the legislation did not become law in 2003. Early in 2004, House Republican leaders brought the measure back to the floor. The subject of this vote was a procedural motion to proceed to a vote on the rules governing debate on the social security protection bill (before legislation can be considered on the floor, a rule drafted by the House Rules Committee-which acts essentially as an arm of the majority party leadership-must be adopted to set the ground rules for debate). Progressives opposed the motion to proceed based on their objections to the underlying legislation. In the view of Progressives, public employees such as teachers, firefighters, and police should not be penalized by the death of a spouse. Preventing widowed public servants from receiving the retirement benefits of their deceased spouse, Progressives argued, would cause serious financial hardship in many households especially if the death was unexpected and/or the couple was depending on the retirement benefits of the dead spouse. Conservatives voted in favor of the motion to proceed based on their view that widowed public servants should not receive their spouse's retirement benefits; allowing them to do so, they argued, was fraudulent. On a party-line vote of 226-197, the motion to proceed was adopted and a vote on the rules of debate governing consideration of the underlying measure was allowed.

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