Whatever happened to “The majority rules?”
Last week Senate Republicans created a national firestorm by invoking a 60-vote rule concerning a vital aid bill for our 22 million veterans.
Senator Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent, saw his Veterans Benefit Bill fall short by four votes, 56 to 41, with all Democrats and only two Republicans voting yes.
The bill, costing $21 billion over 10 years, called for expanding dental and medical care, educational assistance and the caretaker stipends that currently apply only to post-September 11 veterans. Further, it would repeal a recent cut to the cost-of-living adjustments for future military retirees and would have allowed the Veterans Administration to open 27 new health facilities.
Veterans groups were quick to respond. Daniel M. Dellinger, national commander of the American Legion, stated, “I don’t know how anyone who voted ‘no’ today can look a veteran in the eye and justify that vote. Our veterans deserve more than what they got today.”
I reached out to Joe Davis, public affairs director of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
“Of course the VFW was disappointed, but the bright side is the dialogue has begun. We will continue to work with the Committee to bring this bill to a vote, so it can be sent on to the House for consideration,” he wrote.
Republicans claimed they blocked the bill because Majority Leader Harry Reid would not allow an up-or-down vote on an amendment that would have attached sanctions on Iran to the bill.
Sanders adds, “I am going to keep fighting. The cost of war does not end once the last shots are fired, and the last battles are fought. When members of the military lose arms, legs and eyesight fighting in wars that Congress authorized, we have a moral obligation to make sure that those Americans receive all of the benefits that they have earned and deserve. When American soldiers die in combat, we have a moral obligation to make sure that the spouses and children they leave behind are taken care of and do not live in abject poverty.”
Comedian Jon Stewart featured this story on his TV show and then asked, “Why do these senators get to stay in office?”
And when will the Senate eliminate that controversial 60-vote rule and revert to a simple majority?
I give you President John Adams’ toast: Independence forever.
Jerry Plantz lives in Lee’s Summit. His website is at www.Jerryplantz.com. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.