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
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
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
“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.