This is the first time in the last 20 years that the Congress has failed to send a single appropriations bill to the President at this point in the fiscal year. The most egregious example of this abdication of responsibility is the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Bill.
More than four months have passed since the House overwhelmingly approved the largest increase in veterans funding in history, and yet the Democratic Majority has failed to send this bill to President Bush. Instead this week, the Democrats attempted to use the popular veterans funding legislation as a vehicle to advance a controversial bill that had no chance of being approved on its own, and moreover, had absolutely nothing to do with veterans! So, in order to advance their liberal social agenda, the Democratic Majority piled the massive Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations bill on top of the bill that provides funding for our nations heroes – effectively turning millions of our patriots into political pawns. Simply put, this is unacceptable.
To combat such shameless tactics, I have introduced a resolution which would ensure that no Congress –Republican or Democrat – would ever again be able to play politics with the funding for our veterans. The resolution, House Resolution 786, would change the rules of the House to require that the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill be voted on as a stand-alone measure. Over 130 of my Republican colleagues have joined me in this effort.
Unfortunately, House Democrats were apparently more interested in what the veterans bill could do for them politically than what benefits it could provide for our heroes. 222 House Democrats voted to support this omnibus bill, and send it to the Senate for approval. Thankfully, due to a provision in Senate rules, Republican Senators were able to split the two bills apart – sending the Labor/HHS bill back to the House without the Veterans bill attached. I am proud of our Senators for standing with House Republicans in support of our veterans, but our efforts cannot end here.
First and foremost, the Congress must live up to its sacred obligation to fund the needs of those who have fought America’s battles and served their country. If the current Majority wanted to demonstrate its commitment to our veterans, they would have stopped playing politics and passed this important legislation before November 11th. But instead, it appears the Majority will continue using veteran’s funding as a political hostage well into December and combine it with yet another pork-laden domestic bill.
This is the worst possible message that we can be sending to our nation’s veterans – especially during a time of war.