Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) along with Republican Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) introduced a bill today that would end homelessness among military veterans by 2015.
The bill titled the Homeless Veterans Prevention Act of 2013 is an impressive piece of legislation. Despite the fact that veteran homelessness has declined by 17% since 2009, there are still 62,000 homeless veterans in the United States. The bill deals with expanding homelessness prevention programs, increasing the availability of legal services to homeless vets, keeping homeless veteran families together by allowing the VA to house children of homeless vets in transitional housing programs, reauthorization of employment and housing programs, and it expands eligibility for the homeless veterans dental program.
Sen Sanders said, “We must continue to invest in the progress that has been made and remove any remaining barriers to housing for veterans.” Sen. Burr added, “Our veterans served our country with honor and they should not be forgotten when they return home. Helping homeless veterans get off the street and back on their feet is our obligation, and this legislation is an important step in that direction.”
The Department of Veterans Affairs has established the goal of eliminating veteran homelessness by 2015, and the Sanders/Burr bill is designed to give them the resources needed to meet that goal.
This bipartisan proposal would go a long way towards eliminating the national shame of homelessness among those who have served our country. This legislation seems like a no brainer. However, last year Senate Republicans killed a bill that would have created 20,000 jobs for veterans because they thought it was too expensive.
The good news is that with the Democratic caucus holding a 10 vote majority in the Senate (55-45), only 5 Republican votes will be needed to pass the bill. Hopefully, Sen. Burr can round up four other Republicans who care enough about veterans that they are willing to take action against homelessness.
If Republicans in the House or Senate kill this bill, they must be held accountable for their chronic mistreatment of veterans. Many of these same Republicans who have voted to deny veterans the help and care that they have earned have the nerve to claim that they support the troops, and ask for the votes of those who served.
Washington has a chance to do something good for the nation’s homeless vets, and they’ll be held accountable if they again fail to do what is right.
The hypocrisy must end. If congressional tea party Republicans truly love their country, they’ll support helping America’s homeless vets.