It always makes me laugh when Republicans say that President Obama is the reason why Congress has failed to get anything done the last few years. Because, you know, he was the one who held the debt ceiling hostage, shut down the government, refused to allow a vote on a bipartisan immigration bill and set records for the number of filibusters used in the Senate.
Oh, wait. That wasn’t him. Republicans did all of that.
And while most Republicans in Congress have been guilty of obstructing just about everything President Obama supports, House Republicans are clearly the biggest problem.
Even if the Senate happens to pass a bipartisan bill that the president would sign, often John Boehner simply refuses to let the House vote on it out of fear that enough Republicans will side with Democrats and it will pass. You know, out of fear of seeming to endorse *gasp* bipartisanship.
But even when the Senate passed a veterans bill drafted by senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) by a vote of 93-3, somehow we still can’t get a bill passed. For something to pass the Senate 93-3 is astounding in today’s political environment. But that doesn’t matter because Republicans in the conference committee continue to hold up the passage of the bill.
Now to be fair, the House passed their own bill 421-0, though it includes less funding than the Senate bill does for VA programs. And my theory is when it comes to helping our veterans, I support the side who’s trying to spend the most money. Especially considering one of the biggest problems facing our VA system – is funding.
Rachel Maddow hammered those Republicans stalling the passage of this bill last night, calling their respect for our military “shameless lip service.”
She said, “Right now, while this crisis is still happening, all of Washington’s flagrant and shameless lip service on veterans’ issues is not being matched at all with action.”
That’s when she brought up the bill that the Senate passed last month 93-3.
“Didn’t you think that this was done?” she continued. “Didn’t you think that this was done after that whole crisis and Shinseki resigning? I mean, that’s Bernie Sanders and John McCain, of all people. If they could get together on this, and the Senate agreed 93 to 3 to go with them on this, didn’t you think that this was done? This is not done.”
But of course not. Because as much as Republicans tried to hammer President Obama on the most recent veterans scandal, when presented with a bill that passed 93-3 that would address many of those issues with proper funding addressing a multitude of issues, it still seems some House Republicans were too concerned about the costs of the bill.
Just for the record, if passed this Senate bill would build 26 VA clinics in 18 states and fund the hiring of more VA personnel. It would also allow veterans living more than 40 miles from a VA clinic to visit private doctors.
You know, the exact things we need to do to reduce wait times and improve the quality of care we provide to our veterans. Which are two of the major issues plaguing these VA hospitals.
The main differences between the bills, which seem to be the reason why some Republicans continue to block this bill, center around the following:
Senate provisions not mentioned or passed previously in the House are health care related to sexual trauma, an authorization for VA to expend unused funds to hire additional health care providers, and emergency appropriations to cover the immediate expansion of non-VA purchased care. The Senate bill would also dedicate $500 million toward hiring new VA medical staff.
As with most things Republican, it all boils down to money. So while many of these Republicans stand there, acting as if there’s no limit to how far they’ll go to help our veterans, when we get right down to it – it’s always about money with them. Though they never seem to mind when we spend billions on war or for some giant piece of military equipment we don’t even need.
Then Maddow really ripped into Republicans.
“See, when the attention is there and everybody’s complaining about how something must be done, it’s very easy to demand, in theory, that ‘this must be done, no expense spared, this is a sacred obligation that we’re violating, we have to fix it,’” she said. “Sounds great. Print it, put it on a campaign ad, right? But when it comes to actually doing it, when it comes to actually putting your money where your mouth is, apparently so far the answer is, ‘No, we don’t actually want to spend the money.’”
When the VA scandal was all Fox News could talk about, every Republican in this country was blasting the president for being incompetent and ignoring our veterans. They went on and on about how it was inexcusable and something had to be done.
That’s when then Senate did something that actually addresses multiple problems. But like always, if there’s something getting in the way of passing something in Congress, look no further than the Republican party.
Watch Maddow’s segment below via MSNBC: