In a shameful display of partisan obstruction, the Mitch McConnell led Senate Republicans a blocked a bill that would have improved veterans benefits.
Senate Republicans blocked the veterans bill by using a procedural maneuver to invoke the 60 vote rule. The final vote to waive the budget point of order failed, 56-41. Only two Republicans (Sen. Dean Heller and Sen. Jerry Moran) joined with Democrats on the vote.
Republicans claimed that they blocked the bill because Majority Leader Harry Reid would not allow an up or down vote on an amendment that would have attached sanctions on Iran to the bill.
Sen. Reid said, “I hope all the veterans groups have witnessed all the contortions the Republicans have done to defeat this bill. Shame on Republicans for bringing base politics into a bill to help veterans.”
The chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee, Sen. Bernie Sanders, said,
I had hoped that at least on this issue – the need to protect and defend our veterans and their families – we could rise above the day-to-day rancor and party politics that we see here in Congress
I am going to keep fighting. I am proud that we received every Democratic vote and that two Republicans also voted with us. In the coming weeks, I will be working hard to secure three additional Republican votes, and I think we can do that.
The cost of war does not end once the last shots are fired, and the last battles are fought. When members of the military lose arms, legs and eyesight fighting in wars that Congress authorized, we have a moral obligation to make sure that those Americans receive all of the benefits that they have earned and deserve. When American soldiers die in combat, we have a moral obligation to make sure that the spouses and children they leave behind are taken care of and do not live in abject poverty.
The only message that can be taken away from today’s vote is that Senate Republicans think it is more important to deny President Obama a “win” than it is to help our nation’s veterans. The bill contained provisions that would restore the COLA for vets, and protect them from losing their benefits in the event of another government shutdown. It also would have authorized the construction of 27 new clinics and medical facilities, and it would have provided tuition assistance to post-9/11 vets.
It is the kind of legislation that used to be a no brainer, but it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the same group of Republicans who think that they shouldn’t have to pay the nation’s bills also want to renege on their obligations to our veterans.
Senate Republicans committed a disgraceful betrayal of the promise that has been made to those who put their lives on the line for this country. I hope this is a wake up call for vets who think that the Republican Party has their interests at heart.
The Republican Party doesn’t care about veterans. This vote stabbed veterans in the back, and should make every vet question why they would ever vote Republican.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association