American Legion: Senate vote on veterans bill ‘inexcusable'
National commander disappointed Senate fails to put partisanship aside on critical veterans vote
American Legion National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger expressed frustration and disappointment with Thursday's Senate debate that effectively killed S. 1982, the Comprehensive Veterans Health and Benefits and Military Retirement Pay Restoration Act of 2014.
The Senate voted 56-41 to waive an extra budget point of order made against the bill – four votes short of what was needed to move the legislation onto a full Senate vote – ending floor consideration of the measure.
"Today, the Senate had a chance to put aside partisan politics and do what was right for the men and women who have sacrificed so much while wearing our nation's uniform," Dellinger said. "Instead, we saw the same political gamesmanship that led our federal government to a shutdown last fall. There was a right way to vote and a wrong way to vote today, and 41 senators chose the wrong way. That's inexcusable."
In addition to including a full repeal of the military retiree cost-of-living-adjustment reduction recently passed by Congress, S. 1982 also included provisions expanding current caregiver law to involve all generations of veterans; providing advance appropriations to ensure monthly compensation and pension, as well as education payments, are protected from future budget battles; offering in-state tuition protection for recently transitioned veterans, improving access to mental health and treatment for victims of sexual assault in the military, and authorizing construction of more than 20 community-based outpatient clinics to serve veterans in rural and remote communities.
"I don't know how anyone who voted ‘no' today can look a veteran in the eye and justify that vote," Dellinger said. "Our veterans deserve more than what they got today."