The strange title above is not from the Onion, but what I observed this week in the United States Senate because a super majority of 60 Senators would not have it otherwise.
Personally and professionally I have opinions about Iran and the possibility of that country furthering its nuclear capability. You probably have yours as well which may or may not agree with mine. Regardless of opinion, it would shock me if we did not concur that the matter is worth addressing. Then we could argue all that we want about the country of Iran.
Why should the issues with Iran be combined with programs for United States Veterans?
Here is the Senate Bill, S. 1982 or “Comprehensive Veterans Health and Benefits and Military Retirement Pay Restoration Act of 2014” of the 113th Congress.
On 25 December 2014, the Senate voted 99 to 0 for cloture on this bill. That vote is procedural and means that the bill is brought to the Senate Floor for an up or down vote. A vote against cloture is a vote to extend debate or to filibuster.
Once the “Comprehensive Veterans Health and Benefits and Military Retirement Pay Restoration Act of 2014” reached the Senate Floor, a number of GOP Senators sought to attach amendments concerning Iran to this bill. The Majority leader, Harry Reid, blocked these riders.
The bill received a motion to proceed on 26 February by unanimous consent.
The situation changed on 27 February. A point of order against the measure had been raised. A motion to table the bill, technically a motion to table the motion by Harry Reid to commit the bill for an up or down vote by sending the bill back to the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, failed to receive the super majority needed when 52 Senators objected.
With killing the bill via a committee death no longer an option, another procedural ploy took place. The new method was to employ previous budgetary rules to once again require a super majority versus and up or down vote.
The budgetary rules employed were:
- Senate Concurrent Resolution 21 (110th Congress)
- 2 U.S. Code § 933 – PAYGO estimates and PAYGO scorecards
This employment of rules required a motion to waive any applicable rules as they might apply to S. 1982
Here 56 Senators (52 Democrats, 2 Republicans, and the 2 Independents) voted in favor of this motion. Votes against the motion totaled 41. GOP Senators accounted for every vote opposed. Without obtaining a super majority on this procedural matter, S. 1982, the “Comprehensive Veterans Health and Benefits and Military Retirement Pay Restoration Act of 2014” could not have an up or down vote on the Senate Floor.
I’ll agree with anyone that our present Congress knows nothing about budgeting or spending constraint. Some are arguing that this bill and its defeat truly concerned the budget and deficit. While the cost estimates are significant when looked at as an individual, it is barely a blip on the radar compared to other expenditures.
While he voted party line on all measures associated with this bill, Senator Tom Coburn’s (R-OK) annual government “Wastebook” pinpoints areas where many times the amount necessary to fund these services for Veterans are being spent.
Is This Sad?
What’s sad is that this bill did not receive an opportunity for an up or down vote because GOP Senators want additional sanctions on Iran. What’s sad is that many GOP Senators would not allow this bill to pass because President Obama supported the bill.
What’s sad is that if President Obama opposed the bill, the same GOP Senators would have supported it and enough Democratic Senators most likely would have changed their votes to prevent a simple majority with a Floor vote.
What’s sad is that one’s like or dislike of President Barack Obama should have nothing to do with supporting or not supporting this bill. I’m sorry, but for neither what anyone agrees nor what anyone disagrees is Obama the beginning and the end of all creation regardless of what he said or did not say. Like or dislike the man, that is a lame excuse, and I base that opinion on powers delegated in the Constitution of the United States.
Someone tell me how allowing Veterans in state tuition rates is connected to Iran’s nuclear plans. I would argue that any residency requirements at public colleges and universities have been fulfilled by deployments without family and loved ones in the “luxurious” locations around the world which necessitate medical procedures following active service.
It is partisan politics, excuses, and loud mouthed do nothings who tell people what they want to hear so that they can use them and anyone else to try and make themselves the beginning and end of all creation. Barack Obama is neither a great divider nor a great uniter. He’s a man who has become the excuse many use to justify doing nothing themselves.
Like most Presidents, I find it difficult to credit or blame whoever sits in the White House for the majority of domestic issues. It’s not that the President does not have responsibilities. It’s that Constitution thing where the President has more authority to influence foreign policy than domestic policy. Sure the President should lead. Whether President Obama can or cannot lead a horse to water makes no difference if that horse refuses to drink. If he could and did force the horse to drink, we would sadly see how different things are with real authoritarian or totalitarian governmental systems and not these make believe crises where some create mountains from molehills.
A sampling of the press coverage for S. 1982.
It’s nothing new: 2 partisan sources and how they reported past Veteran issues