It seemed like a smooth path for the Veterans Benefits Bill.
The bipartisan legislation would extend health care benefits to veterans exposed to toxic combustion stoves while serving overseas. The original bill passed the Senate last month with 34 Republicans joining all Democrats in favor. Veterans groups have scheduled a press conference for Thursday, which was widely expected as a declaration of victory.
But on Wednesday night, Republicans blocked the revised measure from moving forward, failing to secure the necessary 10 GOP senators. Only eight voted to end the debate and continue.
It came hot on the heels of Democrats outmaneuvering Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his party and announcing a surprise deal to revive President Joe Biden’s national legislative agenda.
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) insisted there was no connection between the two events ― he said he was concerned about funding for the bill ― but it was hard to d ignore the sudden turnaround for so many Republicans who seemed humiliated to be caught off guard by the Democratic deal.
“It’s total bullshit. It’s the worst form of over-politicization I’ve ever seen,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (DN.Y.), who sponsors veterans legislation, said Thursday.
McConnell initially thought he had the best of the Democrats. He said Republicans would not accept a bipartisan bill to boost U.S. computer chip production – a priority for the Biden administration – if Democrats revived their “Build Back Better” agenda.
It didn’t seem like McConnell had anything to worry about – at first. In mid-July, Sen. Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) said he would not support any new climate spending or tax hikes for the wealthy because he was very concerned about inflation. The Democrats thought their grand ambitions were dead.
And on Wednesday, the Senate passed the computer chip bill with support from McConnell and 16 other Republicans.
But hours later, Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (DN.Y.) announced they had reached an agreement on a sweeping $740 billion package to raise taxes on the wealthy and investing in climate change and health care while reducing the deficit.
And in a clever change of scenery, they called it the Inflation Reduction Act. Under Senate rules, this “reconciliation” bill can pass with only a majority of senators, meaning Democrats don’t need the cooperation of any Republicans – as long as all of their members remain united.
The Republicans, of course, were furious at being overwhelmed.
“It was obviously a Joe Manchin double cross,” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said Wednesday night on Fox News. “Just two weeks ago he said he was not going to support a bill like this.”
“They toughened us up on that,” Sen. John Thune (SD), the second House Republican, told reporters.
During a call with reporters Thursday, Manchin insisted he was not trying to mislead Republicans.
“There was no malicious intent,” he said. “We had a bill that was almost done, we were able to finish it on Wednesday, so because of Wednesday, that means we can go into reconciliation next Wednesday and be done before we go” on August 6.
But military veterans may not be the only victims of these Republicans’ hurt feelings. They may also take out their anger on same-sex couples.
A bipartisan group of senators tried to drum up support for legislation that would codify marriage equality. The issue took on urgency when the US Supreme Court ruling struck down the right to abortion and conservative Justice Clarence Thomas said he also wanted other issues, including same-sex marriage, to be addressed. reviewed by the court.
But on Thursday, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) — one of the proponents of same-sex marriage legislation — said she now expects it to be harder for her to convince her GOP colleagues designate.
“I just think the timing couldn’t have been worse, and it came totally out of the blue,” she said, adding, “After working together successfully on the safety of firearms, on the CHIPs bill, this was a very unfortunate move that destroys the many bipartisan efforts that are underway.
“Just to be clear here – Republicans fucked up sick veterans yesterday and are threatening gay and interracial couples today, all because… Democrats are doing their job and passing hugely popular legislation “, tweeted Jim Messina, who served as President Barack Obama’s deputy chief of staff at the White House. “Absolutely shameful. Total loser shit.
The Huffington Gt