WASHINGTON – Senate Republicans blocked a Democratic bill today that would enrich health, education and job-training programs for the nation’s 22 million veterans.
Helping veterans is widely popular among lawmakers, especially with this fall’s congressional elections approaching. The sweeping $21 billion measure would do everything from letting more veterans get in-state college tuition to providing fertility treatments for wounded troops.
Republicans complained that the bill was too expensive. And they were upset that Majority Leader Harry Reid prevented a vote on a GOP amendment cutting the bill and adding sanctions against Iran for its nuclear program.
The Senate derailed the legislation on a 56-41 procedural vote. Fifty-six senators voted to keep the bill alive, but supporters needed 60 votes to prevail.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell countered that Democrats were miring the bill in election-year politics.
This week, Republicans tried amending the veterans’ measure to make it less expensive and to add new penalties against Iran for its nuclear program. President Barack Obama strongly opposes that step, saying international talks on Iran’s nuclear program must be given more time.