Sen. Bernie Sanders, Vermont independent, said Tuesday a comprehensive veteran’s reform bill could be brought up on the Senate floor as early as Thursday.
bill will undo the cost-of-living adjustment cuts included in the 2013
budget agreement and will also make changes in several areas ranging
from health care to Veterans Affairs efficiency to education to
"I know every Veterans Day and every Memorial Day
politicians all around the country go out and give great speeches, but I
think it’s time to put our money where our mouths are,” Mr. Sanders
said. "We can never repay the people who put their lives on the line.
We never can, we’re not going to bring back the dead, we’re not going to
bring back arms and legs, but we do have a moral obligation to do
everything that we can to protect those people who have protected us and
that is what this comprehensive legislation does.”
The $24 billion bill is paid for with $4 billion in savings from within the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, "nothing new that hasn’t been used in the past,” Mr. Sanders said. The remaining $20 billion comes from Overseas Contingency Operations funding as the war in Afghanistan winds down.
from more than 20 veterans’ service organizations supported the bill,
saying that it helps every generation of veterans and prioritizes
veterans. The bill will also provide more benefits for survivors of
deceased service members by expanding the education opportunities
available to them.
"I know my husband would be proud of the intent
of this bill to step forward and safeguard his loved ones, just as he
stepped forward to serve our country,” said Patricia Sands, with the
Gold Star Wives.
The bill already has 10 co-sponsors, but no
Republican support. When asked why Republicans aren’t initially
supporting the bill, Mr. Sanders said, "You can ask them.”
emphasized that the bill contains many provisions that have garnered
bipartisan support, including an initiative to provide in-state tuition
for recently separated veterans, which passed the House Monday night by a