Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki has been forced out. A scapegoat has been found. Maybe now we can step back and look rationally at the real problems at the VA. These problems include:
- Inadequate funding.
- Not enough primary care doctors.
- Not enough clinics.
- Doctors and staff are underpaid.
- Lots of other problems resulting from chronic underfunding.
Republicans filibustered a VA funding bill in February. Next week Sen. Bernie Sanders is re-introducing his bill to fix these problems. Republicans have a second chance to fix things.
February: Senate GOP blocks veterans’ bill,
Only two of the Senate’s 45 Republicans – Sens. Dean Heller (Nev.) and Jerry Moran (Kan.) – voted with the Democratic majority. That was obviously not enough to end the GOP’s obstruction.
The bill, the Comprehensive Veterans Health and Benefits and Military Pay Restoration Act, was quite expansive. Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), a co-sponsor, posted an overview of the legislation, highlighting its expanded VA health care access, tuition assistance, and job training. These certainly sound like the sort of things GOP lawmakers could go for.
Step 1: Block the bill (and any/every bill that makes things/anything better);
Step 2: blame Democrats for the damage done by their blocking the bill.
(See yesterday’s post, Republican Strategy: Obstruct, Blame Democrats For Obstruction’s Damage)
In February Republicans blocked, killed, filibustered — whatever you want to call it, they obstructed Senator Bernie Sanders’ Comprehensive Veterans Health and Benefits and Military Pay Restoration Act that would boost VA funding and help fix these problems. The bill was supported by a majority of the Senate and would have passed except for the obstruction. Now they are blaming President Obama, Democrats and government generally for the damage resulting from their own obstruction. And they are even already running campaign ads against Democrats based on the scandal they caused.
Senator Sanders Re-Introducing VA Bill, Giving Republicans 2nd Chance
Next week Senator Bernie Sanders is reintroducing his bill. The bill increases the VA budget by $21 billion, improves veterans’ health and dental care, authorizes 27 new veterans’ clinics and medical facilities, adds to veteran education programs and repeals a provision of the Murray-Ryan budget deal that slashed military pensions. And it does a number of other things to improve the situation for veterans. Again – Republicans blocked, killed, filibustered, obstructed, whatever this bill just 3 months ago!
Will Republicans vote for this bill to fix the problems? Or will they just make the problems worse so they can make nasty campaign ads accusing Democrats of being in office when the problems got worse?