41 Senators Block Benefits for Veterans-Truth! & Outdated!
Summary of eRumor:
There have been reports that 41 senators blocked benefits for veterans by voting against a bill that would have improved medical services for vets.
It’s true that 41 senators voted against a veteran benefits bill back in 2014.
Congress did successfully pass a spending bill that increased funding for veterans programs in September 2015, however. The rumor that 41 senators blocked a veteran benefits bill applies to the failed 2014 bill, not the successful 2015 bill.
The failed measure from 2014 was called the Comprehensive Veterans Health and Benefits and Military Retirement Pay Restoration Act. The bill would have directed an additional $21 billion to medical services and cost-of-living adjustments for veterans and caregivers over 10 years, the Washington Examiner reports:
The bill would essentially offer VA health care services to all veterans, including those who do not have service-related problems and have incomes above current cutoff levels. It would also greatly expand a program that pays caregivers of disabled veterans a monthly stipend. Congress originally passed the measure for veterans of post-Sept. 11 wars; Sanders would expand it to all veterans.
The caregivers provision is one of the single most expensive features of the bill, and it was put into the legislation over the objections of the Department of Veterans Affairs itself, which believes it would cost even more than Sanders estimated.
Bernie Sanders, the Independent senator from Vermont and 2016 presidential candidate, introduced the bill. Sanders posted a video recounting how 41 senators blocked the veteran benefits bill that has been viewed more than 130,000 times on YouTube:
The rumor that 41 senators voted against the veteran benefits bill is based on a Senate vote that was held on February 27, 2014. On that day, 41 Republican senators voted against a motion to waive applicable budgetary discipline. The motion was required to fund Sanders’ veteran benefits bill.
The 41 senators voted against a motion to waive sequestration, or budget policies that require new discretionary spending to be offset by budget cuts elsewhere. A three-fifths majority was required for the motion to waive budgetary discipline to pass, so it failed.
The video posted by Bernie Sanders shows clips of Republican senators (including 2016 presidential hopeful Marco Rubio) discussing how cost issues had led them oppose the motion, and the veteran benefits bill.
“I don’t think veterans want their programs to be enhanced if every penny of the money that’s going to enhance those programs is added to the debt of the United States of America,” Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, said on the Senate floor at the time.
Marco Rubio said, “This bill has already been debated … It has many good elements in it,” Rubio said. “It also has a cost issue at a time when our nation owes close to $18 trillion. That was the reason why so many on my side of the aisle objected to it, and that’s why I would object to the motion made here today by the senator from Vermont.”
So, it’s true that 41 Senators blocked a veteran benefits bill back in 2014.
The veteran benefits bill that was passed in September 2015 provides $79.7 billion in discretionary funding for military construction and veterans programs, about $7.9 billion more than in the previous fiscal year, The Hill reports.