Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Veterans' Benefits

How the Republican Party can claim it supports the troops is beyond me, when they are so busy CUTTING those benefits. From Representative Louise Slaughter (D-NY):

"As some of you may know I serve as the Ranking Democrat on the House Rules Committee... well tonight Republicans on the committee (Chairman Dreier & Reps. Hastings of Washington, Capito, Cole, Bishop and Gingrey) voted against taking care of a serious budget shortfall that the Bush Administration recently announced has opened up in our country's veterans' health care system.

For those you that don't know, last week, the Bush Administration acknowledged that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) needs another one billion dollars this year to cover the health care needs of our country's veterans, including approximately 86,000 new Iraq and Afghanistan vets.

All major veterans' groups, including the American Legion, the Paralyzed Veterans of America, and the Disabled American Veterans, condemned this billion-dollar shortfall and predicted it could seriously harm the quality and availability of veterans' health care.

In response to this announcement, Texas Congressman Chet Edwards, the top Democratic Member on the House Subcommittee on Military Quality of Life and Veterans Affairs, offered an amendment to immediately address this shortfall, so no veteran would lose access to her or his needed health care. Invoking a special wartime budget wartime authority, Edwards proposed adding the money to H.R. 3057, the Foreign Operations Appropriations bill that we will be passing later this week.

Unfortunately, my Republican colleagues (Chairman Dreier & Reps. Hastings of Washington, Capito, Cole, Bishop, Gingrey) on the Rules Committee opposed giving Congressman Edwards the procedural waiver his amendment needed so that it could be debated and quickly passed. The Republicans I just mentioned voted along party lines to block the Edwards Amendment and effectively killed his attempt to immediately address the terrible budget shortfall the VA is facing.

I'm sure you'll agree with me that standing up for our veterans is not a Democratic or a Republican issue. It's about keeping the solemn promise we make to the men and women who go to war to defend our freedoms. We promise them we'll take care of them if they come home injured in their minds or bodies. It is unconscionable to me that we would go back on this promise while our country is at war."

For more information, see Representative Slaughter's diary at Daily Kos.