Republicans just love the troops, right? They never met a military spending increase they didn’t like. They never miss a photo op at a military base or a veteran’s meeting. They want to help the men and women who protect the country, or so they say. But, when the floodlights are turned off and the cameras are put away, when they retire to the confines of the U.S. Capitol, do Republicans really support the troops? When it comes to their recent record on veterans’ affairs, the answer is, “no.”
In recent years, Republicans in congress have blocked or voted against a variety of bills designed to help veterans, either directly or indirectly. The following is a summary of some of those bills:
In February, 2014, Republicans voted against a bill that would have improved and expanded health care for veterans. The measure, called the “Comprehensive Veterans Health and Benefits and Military Retirement Pay Restoration Act of 2014,” was supported by various veterans’ groups, including the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), and the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). Forty one Republican senators voted against cloture (ending debate) on the bill, effectively killing it. Only two voted in favor. No Democrats opposed the legislation. Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) explained the reason the GOP opposed the bill.
With $17 trillion in debt and massive annual deficits, our country faces a fiscal crisis of unparalleled scope. Now is not the time, in any federal department, to spend money we don’t have.
A House committee in September voted against a proposal that would have allowed veterans with same sex spouses to receive benefits for their partner, regardless of whether or not the state where they live recognizes same sex marriages. New Jersey representative Jon Runyan was the only Republican on the committee to vote in favor of the measure.
In 2012, Senate Republicans blocked a veterans’ jobs bill. Forty Republicans voted against cloture on the “Veterans Jobs Act of 2012.” Only five Republicans voted in favor, along with all of the Democrats. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) commented on the vote.
It’s both shocking and shameful that Republicans today chose to kill a bill to put America’s veterans back to work.
Virginia Democrat Gerry Connolly introduced an amendment in the House in 2011 that was designed to help military families that were struggling to keep up with mortgage payments. Connolly offered the following comment to his colleagues.
The brave men and women of our armed forces fight and die to protect our families and our homes here in the United States. How can we now tell them we’re not going to fight to protect theirs?
Connolly’s amendment was defeated 182-238 in a largely party line vote.
Veterans sometimes rely on food stamps, which Republicans think we should eliminate
Republicans have voted to cut food stamps, or “SNAP” programs. The Huffington Post says that approximately $100 million worth of food stamps were redeemed by people eligible to shop at military base commissaries in 2013. A Defense Department spokesperson says that in 2011, there were 5,000 people who redeemed food stamps at military commissaries who listed their occupation as “active duty military.” That number was up from 1,000 in 2010. It is obscene that anyone who is on active duty in the armed forces has to rely on food stamps to feed his or her family. Now, thanks to Republican cuts, food stamps will be taken away from those families and the families of veterans, including disabled veterans, who rely on the assistance. The Center For Budget and Policy Priorities reports that in any given month, as many as 900,000 veterans and their families rely on food stamps.
Butch Griggs, a disabled veteran, commented on the Republicans’ cuts.
What it means is basically no food security whatsoever. It means you’re having to ask and scrounge and beg for extra food.
Those are just a few examples of how Republicans talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk when it comes to taking care of our veterans. The same group that always seems to have unlimited money for war, has very little to offer in support of the men and women they send to fight those wars when they return home. The soldiers that they claim to love when they’re fighting and dying, are just more red ink on a balance sheet when they return home.[Image: courtesy Feminspire]