Representatives Vote against Veterans | Veterans for Common Sense

Originally posted at Florida Veterans for Common Sense

Columnist Jeremy Wallace wrote a column in the Herald Tribune on Sunday, July 7, 2013 arguing that Rep. Buchanan and Rep. Rooney did not vote against veterans when they voted against an amendment to the VA Budget bill. The amendment would have added more claim processors to work down the backlog of VA disability claims.

Of course, they voted against veterans.

As Mr. Wallace notes, motions to recommit provide the opportunity to amend a bill by voting to send it back to a committee for more work, typically with a specific request — such as fixing the VA backlog. This is exactly what should have happened if the goal is to support veterans like they need and deserve.

It’s true that the amounts set forth in the VA budget that passed will speed up VA claims processing, but they are not sufficient to end the backlog. The VA budget should not have been approved until enough money was appropriated to end the backlog.

Rep. Rooney attempted to explain his vote by saying the Motion to Recommit was merely a “political game” and said that he has been working on ways to fix the benefits backlog.

Veterans’ disability claims shouldn’t be viewed as a political game. Disabled veterans’ needs are real especially for those who have to wait for months, and sometimes years, to have their claims finalized. If Rep. Rooney has been working on the VA backlog, he has failed. Why have you not voted to fund sufficient dollars to end the backlog?

The money is available to fund enough claims processors to end the VA backlog if we quit wasting money at the Pentagon and for counterproductive war.

Why does Congress not make the Pentagon account for what it spends? The Sarasota Herald Tribune reported on Wednesday, July 10, 2013 that Pentagon mismanagement is rampant. As an example, the article points out that the Pentagon spent $34 million on a 64,000 square foot headquarters building in Afghanistan that will never be used.

In view of the waste, fraud, and abuse at the Pentagon, Representative Rooney’s and Buchanan’s votes against veterans are particularly galling when they both routinely vote to fund counterproductive war. We note that voting to help disabled veterans doesn’t enrich private corporations and mercenary companies while voting for perpetual war does.

Notice the irony. The representatives routinely vote for war which guarantees that more veterans will need VA services so the cost ever increases. Nobel Prize winning economist, Joseph Stiglitz, calculates the cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars already exceeds $5 trillion when the costs to care for the wounded, injured, and sickened veterans are included. And the costs go up by millions of dollars every day we stay in Afghanistan.

Yet, there is hope. Columnist David Ignatius of the Washington Post, who has been an apologist for the wars of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz, has had a change of heart. Now, he says that in the last dozen years we should have learned, among other things, not to send U.S. troops to fight Middle East wars.

Isn’t it past time that Representatives Rooney and Buchanan learn the same lesson and vote for veterans instead of funding counterproductive war and Pentagon waste?

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