Mississippi’s Sen. Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker joined Senate Republican in derailing a bill that would have expended $21 billion to enhance health care, education and job benefits for veterans.
“I don’t know how anyone who voted ‘no’ today can look a veteran in the eye and justify that vote,” said Daniel M. Dellinger, national commander of the American Legion in a Washington Post report. “Our veterans deserve more than what they got today.”
Republicans stopped the veterans bill from moving on a procedural vote, which needed 60 votes. The final tally was 56-41.
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, Politico reported.
Republicans argued the nation can’t afford the expenditure which would have been spread over 10 years, while Democrats reminded them that the money is already earmarked for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and would be spent at home to help the veterans who fought the wars instead opf on the wars itself.
Even such self-proclaimed veterans’ champions as Sen. John McCain and Lindsey Graham joined GOP colleagues in voting to kill the measure. Two Republican senators – Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada and Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas – joined Democrats in support of the measure.
In a commentary piece for Politico, politics writer Jason Easley said the GOP action is tantamount to stabbing the nation’s war fighters in the back.
“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,” Easley wrote.