NGAUS Washington Report
(March 4, 2014) Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said last week he will continue to fight for improved benefits for veterans after Republicans blocked a bill that would have expanded programs such as education, health care and job training.
“I am going to keep fighting,” Sanders said after his massive piece of legislation failed to reach 60 votes in the Senate to advance the bill. The vote was 56 to 41, but Republicans had invoked a rule requiring 60 votes.
“I am proud that we received every Democratic vote and that two Republicans also voted with us,” Sanders said. He said he will continue to try to secure enough Republican votes to push the bill through the legislative process.
The bill, which had the support of NGAUS and most other veterans organizations, also would have changed the federal definition of a veteran to include men and women who served in the National Guard and Reserve but never spent enough time on active duty to qualify as veterans.
Republicans wanted to trim the bill, which would have provided $21 billion in benefits. They also objected to Sanders’ plan to pay for the bill from funds set aside for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but not spent.
Democrats are using the vote to paint Republicans as anti-veteran, a charge they, of course, reject.
“We’re not going to be intimidated on this,” Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., told the Associated Press. “We’re going to do the right things for the veterans of America.”