Sanders Bill S.1982 to Fund Veterans Programs Is More Proof That Both Parties Are NOT the Same

The meme below is fresh from this morning’s Facebook feed.

It inspired me to do some research. The result is more evidence that the two major political parties are simply NOT the same.

So here’s my suggestion:
Add the question about supporting our veterans – and the partisan obstructionism on this bill – to whatever party comparison checklists you have now and that you’ll use when you go to the polls in November.


As an anti-war, anti-empire, and extremely proud, peace-loving, and patriotic liberal who has been registered as Non-Partisan since 1979, this was (and still is) my feeling on the issue of veterans affairs:

It is inconceivable that the men and women
who volunteer to put their lives at risk in service to this country
are not taken care of regardless of what it takes.

How can this even be an issue?

The answer is simple: Politics. Petty, partisan politics.

Here is what Richard Cowan of Reuters reported on February 27th in his piece, U.S. Senate Republicans block veterans’ health bill on budget worry.

It begins:

(Reuters) – U.S. Senate Republicans blocked legislation on Thursday that would have expanded federal healthcare and education programs for veterans, saying the $24 billion bill would bust the budget.

Even though the legislation cleared a procedural vote on Tuesday by a 99-0 vote, the measure quickly got bogged down in partisan fighting.

Supporters said the measure would have brought the most significant changes in decades to U.S. veterans’ programs. For example, it called for 27 new medical facilities to help a healthcare system that is strained by veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

With Democrats pressing for passage this week, Senate Republicans, backed by their leader, Mitch McConnell, attempted to attach controversial legislation calling for possible new sanctions on Iran that President Barack Obama opposes.

“The issue of Iran sanctions … has nothing to do with the needs of veterans,” complained Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Bernard Sanders of Vermont, the main sponsor of the bill.

The bill is Senate Bill 1982. It is titled Comprehensive Veterans Health and Benefits and Military Retirement Pay Restoration Act of 2014.

It was introduced on February 3, 2014.

As of today, April 6, 2014, it has 29 co-sponsors.

They are all Democrats.

These are the facts.

Now ask yourself why Senate Republicans, led by Mitch McConnell, want to attach unrelated legislation to this bill that they know the president opposes?

Is there any other answer to that question other than they are willing to use the well-being and the very lives of veterans as pawns in partisan politicking, just as they have done on so many other issues like marriage equality, benefits for the long-term unemployed, and the poor? (See S.1635 and H.R. 3353 versus H.R. 4006 as examples of how the two parties approach SNAP.)

The question I’m really asking is this:
Is the issue of caring for our veterans finally enough to get us to start having an open and honest dialog about the fact that the two parties are not the same?

If not, what will it take?

Yes, it’s well-understood by everyone that neither party is perfect. No political party, politician, person, or movement is perfect. Nothing is perfect, and we will never all be in complete agreement on anything, let alone on everything. In my view, that is not a justifiable reason to continue engaging in the all-too-convenient and extremely false narrative that the two major parties are the same and equally bad.

They clearly have different ideologies, policy ideas, visions for America, and objectives. Senate Bill 1982 strikes me as simply the latest example of those differences, and here’s why I say that.

First, the entire Senate voted 99-0 to proceed on the bill.

Second, only Democratic Senators have so far co-sponsored it.

Third, it is only Republican Senators who want to attach unrelated language to it that they know cannot possibly get approved by their colleagues and the president.

In my opinion, the Republicans are playing politics with a bill that benefits the brave men and women who volunteered to serve our country in the military. I think we do ourselves, our veterans, and our country a terrible disservice by not calling them out for that and as just the latest example of what distinguishes them from Democrats.

That is why I believe that by continuing to lump the Republican and Democratic parties together as if they are somehow the same needs to stop. It is getting us where S.1982 sadly seems to be headed; nowhere.

Each of us is, of course, free to draw our own conclusions about Republicans and Democrats and Independents and Libertarians and Greens and every other party. We are free to decide for ourselves what we value, what we want our nation’s priorities to be, whom we want to represent us, and what we envision as the America we want to live in.

Each of us should, however, also remember the saying attributed to Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.

The facts tell me that it’s time we stopped talking about Democrats and Republicans as if they are one and the same.

Yes, they are both beholden to Big Money; however, it must be acknowledged that the sources are, for the most part, very different. (And, yes, I still want to #GetMoneyOut of politics. All big money from all sources. If you don’t believe me, click here.)

Yes, elected officials from both parties are working longer and harder at raising lots of money from wealthy donors than they are serving the needs of ordinary citizens. Now ask yourself why that is the case. Can’t most of that be traced in large part to the abominations of the Citizens United and McCutcheon Supreme Court rulings. The facts are that both of those were approved solely and exclusively by Republican-appointed Justices.

These are facts. It’s why I’m asking why we shouldn’t now add Senate Bill 1982 and the question of who really is in support of our veterans – and who is responsible for the partisan obstructionism that has stalled this legislation – to our list of what distinguishes the two major parties?

I’ve added it to my list. It’s just one more thing I’ll remember when I go to the polls in November.