On Friday on the floor, Chairman Chet Edwards of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs denounced Republican attempts to derail critical military and veterans funding. The maneuver was part of their ongoing attempts to pass drilling legislation that would do nothing to help with gas prices. He read the urgings of the veterans organizations not to meddle with the legislation in such ways, prompting boos from Republican Members.
|Chairman Edwards: “Mr. Speaker, we believe attaching them – nongermane amendments – to this critical veterans bill could jeopardize its passage by unnecessarily delaying it or even grinding debate completely to a halt. This is unacceptable.”
[Boos heard from the Republican side]
Chairman Edwards: “My colleagues, those aren’t my words, those are the words of the Veterans of Foreign Wars…”
The Republicans’ unsuccessful attempt to derail the veterans bill comes after President Bush threatened to veto the legislation over excessive spending on veterans and our troops and after Senate Republicans blocked the National Defense Authorization Act in the Senate over the same issue. The House did pass the FY 2009 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill, H.R. 6599 despite the Republican obstruction. This bill provides another much-needed funding increase for veterans' care (11 percent more than last year and $2.9 billion more than the President's request) — building on last year's largest ever increase in the 77-year history of the Veterans' Administration. All of the major veterans groups endorse the measure.
As Chairman Edwards explained, Veterans' organizations also called for its swift passage: “we urge that no impediments are put in its way and that its passage can come quickly and smoothly. The issues in this bill …are not controversial, and they have broad bipartisan support. Attaching non-germane issues to the veterans funding bill that serve to delay or block passage would truly be wrong.” [VFW, 7/25/08] Nonetheless, Republicans attempted to derail the bill by attaching drilling provisions that would destroy some of the nations most pristine areas forever in exchange for savings of only pennies per gallon more than 15 years from now, according to President Bush’s own Energy Department. The provisions, however, would provide billions of dollars in profits for the oil industry.