Monday, December 24, 2018

Republicans squash bill to pay for Vietnam vets' health care citing deficit woes

In June, the House voted 382-0 to pass the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act, which would extend veterans’ benefits to the numerous men who served off the coast of Vietnam during the war. Many of these men have had to spend a considerable part of their lives trying to prove that they were exposed to Agent Orange, leading to some, if not most, of their health problems. Since June, the act has been stuck in the Republican-led Senate. Last Monday, Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) attempted to get the unanimous consent of the Senate to pass the bill.

If the Senate can get unanimous consent on a bill, it can move through approval considerably quicker, and this bill is a seeming no-brainer for Democrats and Republicans. There are no “poison pills” attached to the act, no secret money for food assistance (giving to people who need it money for food is something that can really scare off Republican legislators). The only drawback to asking for a unanimous approval on the Senate floor is that the moment a single senator opposes the bill, the entire unanimous consent enterprise is scuttled. Of course, who would object to extending healthcare benefits to Vietnam veterans? Like, for real? Who? According to the Stars and Stripes, that would be Senator Mike Enzi (WY-R), chairman of the Senate Budget Committee.

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