Republicans love telling us how much they support the troops. Whether it be a “Mission Accomplished” banner or a talking point about fixing the VA, Republicans will use any smoke and mirrors tactic to show the public that they “care” about our troops and veterans.
But here’s the thing: Republicans have a sickening voting record and a history of stupid remarks that that prove their efforts are nothing but a show. Just because John McCain served in the military doesn’t mean he’s an ally of our nation’s service members, past or present (that’s one thing Donald Trump got right).
While there are many Republicans across this nation who no doubt support our veterans and want the best for them, their elected representatives fall short of delivering on our hopes.
Here are the top five ways Republicans have turned their backs on our veterans.
7. Their words speak of their priorities:
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 [on veterans care]. – Sen. Richard Burr (NC)
I feel strongly we’ve got to do the right thing for our veterans. But I don’t think we should create a blank check, an unlimited entitlement program, now. – Sen. Jeff Sessions (AL)
6. Due to their hatred for Planned Parenthood, Republicans killed the The Women Veterans and Families Health Services Act.
This bill was simple, and bipartisan: require the government to provide fertility treatments and family counseling for the “severely wounded, ill, or injured” military members or veterans. Unfortunately, Republican Senator Thom Tillis had the bill killed because he tried to slip in a provision that would bar any of the money used for these treatments to come from any “organizations that take human aborted babies’ organs and sell them.” AKA – Planned Parenthood, the countries largest family counseling clinic in America.
5. Senate GOP filibustered the Veterans Job Act in 2012.
This bill allocated a mere $1 billion in job training programs that would have put unemployed veterans back to work by tending to the country’s federal lands, training them to become members of local law enforcement and fire departments. Former Senator Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma), who was the Senate’s most conservative member, led the obstruction, and the bill garnered only 58 of necessary votes needed to clear the filibuster hurdle. Only five Republicans supported the bill – former Senators Olympia Snowe (Maine) and Scott Brown (Mass), and current Senators Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Susan Collins (Maine) and Dean Heller (Nevada). Meanwhile, while Republicans block a measure that is so desperately needed by our returning service members, Democrats were the ones sponsoring the legislation. And Republicans have the audacity to say democrats (and President Obama) don’t care about the troops?
4. Senate Republicans blocked a Veterans healthcare bill in 2014.
A healthcare bill aimed at alleviating the struggles of the VA was shot down in flames in February 2014 when the Senate GOP filibustered a bill (in a vote of 56-41) that would have provided $24 billion to build 27 new medical facilities to take on the growing number of veteran patients effected by the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Republican Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama claimed the bill would “bust the budget.” Sessions, who has been a member of the Senate since 1997, didn’t seem to care too much about budgeting when he voted in favor of two wars that put over $2 trillion on the nation’s credit card.
3. Senate Republicans blocked an omnibus Veterans Care Package in 2014.
This bill, valued at $15 billion in cost, would have done some major reforms to the care our veterans receive. It would have: offered in-state tuition rates for all Post-9/11 GI Bill users, regardless of where they live. It would have improved services for victims of sexual assault in the military, provided new fertility treatment options for wounded veterans wanting to start a family, and would have given returning veterans a broad extension of their healthcare coverage. Every major veterans organization supported the measure. Veterans and their families were on board, the Democrats including the President were on board, but who wasn’t? Republicans. Only two voted in favor of the measure, and it failed to get the 60 votes necessary to pass.
2. Senate Republicans blocked two bills that reform military sexual assault procedures.
It’s no secret sexual assault in our armed forces is plaguing our nation’s legitimacy and undermining our ability to be upstanding world leaders. In 2014, Senate Republicans blocked two bills intended to curtail the decision to prosecute sexual assault cases away from commanders in he military and instead in civilian courts. With over 20,000 backlogged cases of assault still waiting just for a hearing (even after some of the assaulted had ceased active duty), moving the existing cases to courts that could take on the course load would seem like a no-brainer. But, as usual, Republicans did not budge, and demanded that Iran sanctions be tied to the bill. When Democrats refused, Republicans filibustered.
And here it is, the #1 way conservatives hurt America’s veterans…
1. Republicans cut SNAP benefits for 170,000 low-income veterans.
Nothing says “support the troops” like taking away the only money they have to get an adequate meal! Yet that’s what Republicans did in 2013 when they voted to kick off thousands of veterans dependent on food stamps.
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:
Those affected by the bill’s harshest provisions include low-income veterans. Census data indicate that approximately 900,000 veterans receive SNAP each month…An estimated 170,000 of those 900,000 veterans could be affected by the two provisions that threaten food aid for jobless workers. Other cuts in the bill, including the cut targeted at low-income working families with high housing or child care costs, could affect additional veterans and their families.
There you have it! How’s that “support the troops” rhetoric from right going? It’s time Democrats become the party of veterans, since we’re the only ones who give a damn about them!
Featured image via Wikipedia