I’d like to add some facts to Mr. Orgeman’s letter on the VA scandal. First, I reject any false equivalency that both political parties are to blame. Consistently, I have found the GOP is great at creating veterans, but not so good at taking care of them.
Recognize that Obama extended VA treatment for Agent Orange sickness, signed the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and promoted the hiring of returning vets through “Joining Forces.” However, review the Veterans bill’s blocked by Republicans since President Obama took office and you will appreciate which party supports veterans and which party does not:
H.R. 466–Wounded Veteran Job Security Act became H. R. 2875.
H.R. 1168-Veterans Retraining Act
H.R. 1171–Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program Reauthorization
H.R. 1172-Requiring List on VA Website of Organizations Providing Scholarships for Veterans
H.R. 1293-Disabled Veterans Home Improvement and Structural Alteration Grant Increase Act of 2009
H.R. 1803-Veterans Business Center Act
H.R. 2352-Job Creation through Entrepreneurship Act
Earlier this year, the GOP had a chance to prove that it could fund Veterans’ health care as eagerly as it borrowed for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet, Senate Republicans, who are now claiming to be a friend to our Veterans, shamefully blocked Senate bill S.1982 in February. This bill would have expanded and improved care for vets and authorized the construction of 27 new clinics and medical facilities. Unfortunately, it was killed by Senate Republicans, with a vote of 56 to 41–with 41 of 43 Republican Senators voting nay. The reasoning behind rejecting this bill was, “Now is not the time, in any federal department, to spend money we don’t have.” However, the CBO estimates S.1982 would require outlays of just $2.3 billion during the next five years and $4.3 billion for the next 10 years. But, H.R. 4435 authorizing Department of Defense appropriations totaling $594 billion for fiscal year 2015 was passed.
As for HR4031 the VA Accountability Act, “being held up” by the Democrats. This bill was rushed though the House and sent to the Senate for an immediate vote before everyone left for Memorial Day. Seems House Republicans were trying to push the bill through without a hearing in the Senate. And there were worries about “unintended consequences”–violation of the due process rights of VA employees; injection of partisan politics into a nonpartisan workforce; and running the risk of having a VA Secretary react too quickly and fire someone “to dampen an ensuing media firestorm.”
John Kocovsky, Hazelhurst