CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Rep. Nick J. Rahall, D-W.Va., is urging the joint House and Senate committee tasked with negotiating a budget agreement to not cut Social Security and Medicare benefits.
Rahall was one of 61 members of Congress sent a letter to the Budget Conference Committee asking them not to cut the two programs.
House and Senate leaders are continuing budget negotiations to avoid another government shutdown after January 15, when the current continuing resolution runs out.
The Conference Committee is co-chaired by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis.
"My message to budget negotiators is this," Rahall said. "Don't mess with Social Security and Medicare. Do not even think about cutting the people's benefits.
"Social Security and Medicare are sacred and binding agreements with the American people -- a contract Congress must honor in the ongoing budget negotiations."
In their letter to Murray and Ryan, the 61 members of Congress stress, "Any compromise the conference produces must protect Medicare and Social Security for current and future generations.
"While arriving at a solution to a budget impasse does require difficult choices, it does not require Americans to surrender their hard-earned benefits."
National and state leaders of the American Association of Retired Persons are also taking strong stands against cutting those benefits to reduce the federal deficit.
West Virginia AARP Director Gaylene A. Miller, said on Friday, "We remain steadfast to protect those earned benefits. We oppose cutting Social Security and Medicare benefits to pay for sequestration cuts.
"Social Security is self-financed through payroll taxes and has created surpluses for the past 35 years.
"We have heard from the American public. Conservatives, liberals and independents all agree overwhelmingly on this issue," Miller said.