Before the Senate vote, organizations devoted to the needs of veterans and their families offered widespread support to the Comprehensive Veterans Health and Benefits and Military Retirement Pay Restoration Act of 2014.
If signed into law, this sweeping legislation would expand and improve health care and benefit services to all generations of veterans and their families. Most notably, it would expand the current caregiver law to include all generations of veterans and provide advance appropriations to ensure monthly compensation and pension as well as education payments are protected from future budget battles. The bill also offers in-state tuition protection for recently transitioned veterans, improves access to mental health and treatment for victims of sexual assault in the military, and authorizes construction of more than 20 Community Bases Outpatient Clinics to serve veterans in rural and remote communities.
Echoing the IAVA and VFW, The Paralyzed Veterans of America stated that “This legislation marks one of the most comprehensive bills to ever be considered in the Senate or House.” The PVA went on to state that, “If enacted, S. 1982 would accomplish some of the highest priorities for Paralyzed Veterans and its members.”
Unfortunately, S.1982 was killed by Senate Republicans, with a vote of 56-41 — only Republicans Senators voting nay and with only two Republicansvoting for the bill. The logic behind every vote against the bill being Republican rests in the following statement from North Carolina Senator Richard M. Burr:
With $17 trillion in debt and massive annual deficits, our country faces a fiscal crisis of unparalleled scope. Now is not the time, in any federal department, to spend money we don’t have. To be sure, there’s much to like in the Sanders bill. And if those components were presented as separate, smaller bills, as part of a carefully considered long-term strategy to reform the VA, hold leadership accountable and improve services to veterans, we would have no problem extending enthusiastic support.
It should not be overlooked that veterans have been committing suicide, enduring long wait times for disability benefits, and dealing with a wide array of others issues ignored by Congress for the past decade.