GOP: Screw you, veterans! You have enough already!

Posted on September 19, 2012


Republicans continue to claim that they “seldom, if ever” use the filibuster to get their way.

Well, today must be “seldom day,” because U.S. Senate Republicans blocked The Veterans Jobs Corps Act that would have created 20,000 jobs for military veterans that would have provided $1 billion over five years to help veterans find work in their home communities. The bill failed to pass, by a vote of 58 to 40. Under the Constitutional rules, 51 votes would have passed it. Click here to see the 40 Republican “nay” votes.

Senate Republicans argued that they opposed the bill because it was unpaid for … just like the increase in the Defense budget that they demand to have implemented. So, apparently, money on the nation’s credit card for contractors is fine. It’s credit for the country’s bravest, noblest and most self-sacrificial – our veterans – that’s “simply not acceptable.”

The bill’s sponsor, Washington Democrat Senator Patty Murray, explained in advance of the vote, that the bill would have paid for primarily from fees on Medicare providers and suppliers who are delinquent on their tax bills. The bill would employ veterans in conservation, resource management and historic preservation projects on public lands. The legislation would also give veterans higher priority for first responder jobs such as police, firefighter and paramedics.

Among the bill’s most vocal opposition, Republican Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma said he objected to the bill because it duplicates existing job programs for veterans that are not well-run. Kentucky Republican Rand Paul said the bill was “a simple distraction in hopes of turning America’s attention away from the truly important issues.”

So, in one sentence, Rand Paul implied that neither veterans nor jobs are “truly important,” and Tom Coburn implied that “we already do enough for veterans.”

Alabama Republican Jeff Sessions submitted the procedural objection to block the bill and called Democratic plans to fund the bill through existing budget set-asides — already Congressionally approved funds that can be reallocated as necessary — “are nothing more than a gimmick.”

In an attempt to garner GOP support, Murray incorporated nearly all the proposals presented by Republicans in their version of the bill, including measures that would improve veterans’ access to Internet tools to find jobs, and make it easier for troops leaving military service to get transition training for civilian life. But, despite such concession to Republicans demands, the GOP voted against the bill anyway.

Current figures show that 720,000 veterans are unemployed nationwide, including 220,000 veterans who have served since the Sept. 11, 2001.

“It’s both shocking and shameful that Republicans today chose to kill a bill to put America’s veterans back to work,” Senator Murray said. “At a time when one in four young veterans are unemployed, Republicans should have been able, for just this once, to put aside the politics of obstruction and to help these men and women provide for their families. It doesn’t matter who gets in [Republicans’] way or which Americans they have to sacrifice in that pursuit, even if it’s our nation’s veterans.”

You would be hard-pressed to find any evidence more damning that this demonstration of Republicans are commitment to nothing more vehemently than the oath Mitch McConnell swore two years ago to obstruct and obfuscate anything and everything in their quest to ensure that Barack Obama doesn’t get re-elected.

And, starting tomorrow, Fox News will spin this as “another failure by Obama to get anything done.” The President didn’t kill this bill. The U.S. Senate didn’t kill this bill. Republicans killed this bill, all by themselves, and hide behind a pathetic technicality that they don’t even support consistently within their own fowl ranks.

Republican opposition to the bill was not unanimous. Alaskan Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said she was disappointed and disgusted that “partisanship trumped patriotism, again, for the sake of party first.” The official reason given for the Republican challenge to the bill is on-record as, “The Veterans Job Corps bill violated the Budget Control Act by adding a new program that would increase the deficit.”

It should be noted that Republican Minority Leader McConnell said last month about his party’s proposed – and unfunded – $500 Billion increase to the Department of Defense budget, “Our nation’s security is not something that should be shackled by petty technicalities and political trickery. Our nation’s defense is more important that politics. We Republicans remain resolute in our commitment to deny the Democrats anything that looks like an accomplishment in an election year.”

But, as today’s vote proves, politics are more important than veterans being able to provide for themselves and their families.  The Republican math shakes out to:  $500 Billion for fraud-ridden contractors – good.  $1 Billion for American veterans – bad.

The White House issued a statement calling the blockage “shameful and needless.”

“Instead of meeting us halfway, we have been met with resistance. Instead of saying yes to the nearly 1 million unemployed veterans, it seems some on the other side have spent the last week and a half seeking any way to say no,” Murray said.

Today’s vote is a blatant slap in the face to veterans, and comes hot on the heels of Republicans’ August 1st vote to increase taxes on military families.

Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid said the bill should have “sailed” through the Senate, but was “sucker-punched by endless Republican partisanship.”

“Blocking a veterans’ jobs bill is a new low,” Reid said.

As Mitt Romney continues to set his political self on fire on a daily basis, and the general election looks more and more elusive for Republicans, there’s no doubt in my mind that the “new-low bar” will continue to sink and I won’t be surprised if we’re looking back a few weeks from now and thinking, “Remember when we thought that Republicans killing that veterans jobs bill was as low as they could go?”

Oh, and just as a side note: Those 40 Republicans who voted against the Veterans bill … only five of them ever served in the military.

Republicans, once again, show us their true colors, and they’re not red, white and blue.

GOP colors are more in the yellow and green spectrum. With some orange thrown in to make them appear healthy.