Last Thursday, Senate Tea-Publicans blocked Democrats on a procedural vote from advancing a bill that would have expanded healthcare and education programs for our military veterans. The Hill reported, GOP blocks veterans bill:
GOP Sens. Dean Heller (Nev.) and Jerry Moran (Kan.) voted with Democrats.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) refused to allow a GOP substitute amendment to get an up-or-down vote because it included Iran sanctions, which he said were unrelated to veterans’ issues.
“I hope all the veterans groups have witnessed all the contortions the Republicans have done to defeat this bill,” Reid said Thursday. “Shame on Republicans for bringing base politics into a bill to help veterans.”
Republicans tried to force consideration of the GOP amendment, but failed to table Reid’s pending amendments on a 44-52 vote.
[Arizona Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake voted to block the bill.]
Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-Vt.) bill, S. 1982, would have expanded veterans’ healthcare programs, given veterans in-state tuition rates at all schools across the country and provided advanced appropriations for the Department of Veterans Affairs.
It also sought to permanently fix a cut to the growth rate of veterans’ pensions. Earlier this year, Congress passed a bill to avoid a cut in the growth rate for current service members and veterans, but anyone enlisting after 2013 would still see a cut. Sanders’ bill would have eliminated that cut as well.
Sanders slammed Republicans for trying to attach the issue of Iran sanctions to the measure.
“Whatever your views are, it just does not belong in a veterans bill,” Sanders said at a press conference after the vote. “And I think the vast majority of the American people understand that. I found it rather incredible.
Sanders paid for the more than $20 billion bill by limiting overseas contingency funds from 2018-2021.
Republicans have said the early troop withdrawals in Afghanistan and Iraq have overextended funds in the Overseas Contingency Operations account. They argue it’s not a real pay-for because those funds are essentially “off budget” and not subject to discretionary spending caps.
Earlier this year there was a bipartisan effort in the Senate led by Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) on behalf of an Iranian exile group, MEK, to enact a new set of sanctions on Iran that would have been in direct violation of the terms of the Five Powers agreement with Iran to negotiate Iran’s nuclear program. MEK Purchases 27 US Senate Votes for War With Iran | emptywheel. Democrats eventually abandoned this ill-considered attempt to undermine negotiations with Iran. Other Democrats Push Back On Senator Menendez’s Attempt To Undermine Iran Talks | emptywheel. But not the Tea-Publicans.
Tea-Publicans, like our Neocon war monger Sen. John McCain, are always advocating for U.S. military intervention and war. There is never any concern about the “pay for” for these interventions and wars, as there is with supporting the veterans of those wars.
McCain was a principal patron of the Iraqi exile group, Ahmed Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress, that provided the false intelligence on which the Bush-Cheney regime relied for the unnecessary and unlawful invasion of Iraq. There was no “pay for” provisions for Bush’s wars, it was always a supplemental budget that put his wars on the nation’s credit card to the tune of trillions of dollars. Study: Iraq, Afghan war costs to top $4 trillion – The Washington Post.
You will recall that during his 2008 campaign for president, McCain’s campaign adviser Randy Scheunemann was also a lobbyist for the former Soviet state of Georgia. While Aide Advised McCain, His Firm Lobbied for Georgia. When a military conflict arose between Russia and Georgia during the campaign, McCain was quick to advocate on behalf of Georgia, and said he told Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili “that I know I speak for every American when I say to him today, we are all Georgians.” McCain to Georgian President: “Today, We Are All Georgians”.
McCain is so pleased with this line that he has used it for other conflicts, including over the weekend with respect to Ukraine. In an interview with Time magazine, Arizona Senator John McCain said on Friday, “We are all Ukrainians,” before calling for swift U.S. economic aid to Ukraine, condemnation of Russia at the United Nations, sanctions against Russian officials and the installation of U.S. missiles in the nearby Czech Republic. (Well at least he did not call it Czechoslovakia this time). Senator John McCain: “We Are All Ukrainians”.
Before Neocon war mongers like John McCain advocate this country into yet another military intervention and war in pursuit of their dream of a Pax Americana Empire through military intervention and occupation, we owe it to the veterans of the wars that these Neocons have already cost this country in blood and treasure by honoring the debt this nation owes to those veterans and their families who have served. There is no excuse for blocking this veterans benefits bill. Pass S. 1982 now.
And if John McCain wants to start another war with (insert name of country here) he should be strapped to the first missile fired by the U.S. Let’s be done with him.