How much do the Republicans love our nation’s veterans? Enough that they’re willing to let election-year disputes and penalties against Iran derail Democratic legislation that would give $21 billion for medical, education, and job-training benefits to the veterans of the country.
To kill the bill, and leave the country’s 22 million veterans and their families hanging in the wind, the Republicans called on a procedural move. They successfully blocked the bill after the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chair Bernie Sanders (I) of Vermont slammed the GOP for their priorities, saying that:
I personally, I have to say this honestly, have a hard time understanding how anyone could vote for tax breaks for billionaires, for millionaires, for large corporations, and then say we don’t have the resources to protect our veterans
More than two-dozen veterans groups supported the legislation that the Republicans killed. According to Jeff Sessions, that’s not going to “intimidate” the Republicans, though, because they’re going to “do the right things for the veterans and America.” This means, “being prudent about federal spending” — that is, more multibillion dollar tax cuts for massive companies and the wealthy.
The Republicans slammed how Sander’s bill was funded; it would use unspent money from the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. According to the GOP, those aren’t “real” savings, as nobody expected the money to be spent as the wars ended.
They also objected to provisions that would give veterans without service-related injures eligibility for treatment with the Department of Veterans Affairs facilities, saying that it’d “swamped” a straining system.
Or, you know, they could drop the billion dollar tax cuts and fund the “swamped” system so it wouldn’t be so swamped. But I guess the Israel lobby is more powerful than the Veterans’ lobby in Washington.
As a case in point, the showdown on Tuesday came after Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid refused to allow a GOP-authored amendment that slashed the bill in half while attaching tougher penalties against Iran. It wasn’t the veterans’ lobby that pushed this nonsense on an otherwise unrelated bill.
Paul Rieckhoff, the founder and CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America — an organization that supported the legislation — condemned the action:
Veterans don’t have time for this nonsense, and veterans are tired of being used as political chew toys.
The Republicans weren’t worried about retribution, though; they’re too busy staying on focus, with attacks against all Americans.
Speaking of the legislation, Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina said that “We’re sort of fooling ourselves to believe that this drives the election issue list.”
Does it drive election years? If “yes,” it’s more important than helping veterans.
There was no response from the White House on whether it supported the bill, but Sander’s legislation addressed everything from making veterans eligible for in-state college tuition to fertility and adoption services for wounded service members unable to conceive.
It would also have been given more tools to deal with the backlog of 390,000 benefit claims awaiting action, bolstered programs for veterans who suffered sexual abuse, would’ve provided dental care and alternative treatments, like yoga for stress relief, and bolster the benefits for spouses of deceased veterans as well as aid for relatives who are caring for a wounded veteran.
I think eliminating some of the multibillion dollar tax cuts given to oil companies would be worth that, but what do I know? I’m just a human.