…”Democrats pointed to statements from several major veterans groups and AIPAC, the influential pro-Israel lobbying group, urging Republicans not to push for a vote on Iran on this bill.
The $21 billion bill, which was written primarily by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, who chairs the veterans committee, would improve veterans’ access to health care services, and expand educational and job training programs for vets. It also aims to reduce the giant claims backlog the Department of Veterans Affairs currently faces.
Sanders argued that “we still have a very long way to go” to meet the needs of older veterans as well as the thousands of service members recently returned from Iraq and Afghanistan. “
“Please do not inject extraneous issues in here for totally political reasons. I think that’s unfair to American’s veterans,” Sanders said during a floor speech this week. “Let’s not kill this bill because of the same ol’, same ol’ partisan issues that we face.”
Republicans cited several concerns with the bill, including its funding - money originally intended for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They also complained the bill would open the VA’s health services to any veteran regardless of whether their disability was service related or if they had private insurance to cover it”…
Members of Congress with military service: “At the beginning of the 113th Congress, there were 108 Members (20% of the total membership) who had served or were serving in the military, 10 fewer than at the beginning of the 112th Congress (118 Members) and 12 fewer than in the 111th Congress (120 members). According to lists compiled by CQ Roll Call, the House currently has 88 veterans (including 2 female Members, as well as 2 Delegates); the Senate has 18.
These Members served in World War II,30 the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Kosovo, as well as during times of peace. Many have served in the Reserves and the National Guard. Eight House Members and one Senator are still serving in the Reserves, and six House Members are still serving in the National Guard. Both of the female veterans are combat veterans. The number of veterans in the 113th Congress reflects the trend of steady decline in recent decades in the number of Members who have served in the military. For example, 64% of the members of the 97th Congress (1981-1982) were veterans; and in the 92nd Congress (1971-1972), 73% of the Members were veterans.
For summary information on the demographics of Members in selected past Congresses, including age trends, occupation backgrounds, military veteran status, and educational attainment, please see CRS Report R42365, Representatives and Senators: Trends in Member Characteristics
Since 1945, coordinated by R. Eric Petersen.
I sent the following message to our GOP legislators this morning. I may get a short note back from Phil Roe. I will get only form letters back from our two Senators who never wore the uniform.
“ I regard the failure to pass this bill as a direct display of how little concern for veterans and active duty troops actually exists in the ranks of the U,S. Senate. The GOP is quite willing to deploy troops into ill-advised and even fraudulent wars, paying trillions of dollars to wage these wars. The GOP members of the Senate are willing to spend billions on weapons systems and for private contractors, but are almost entirely opposed to providing any care for the veterans of the wars they fund and otherwise support. The amount of money spent paying off Iraqi and Afghani politicians, alone, would make a major difference for our veterans. So would the money paid to Halliburton, Blackwater, and other private contractors.
Neither Senator from Tennessee has served in the armed forces, much as is true for most states. I will vote against any national or state candidate for office who does not support increased benefits and services for veterans. “