Reid Wants to Move Forward on Veterans’ Bill Post-Recess

But the legislation faces some pushback from Senate Republicans.

Sen. Bernard Sanders (I-VT), listens to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar testify during a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on May 18, 2010 in Washington, DC. The committee is hearing testimony about the accident involving the Deepwater Horizon oil rig that exploded and is now leaking oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
National Journal
Jordain Carney
Add to Briefcase
Jordain Carney
Feb. 13, 2014, 6:11 a.m.

Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Harry Re­id will try to push for­ward on a wide-ran­ging vet­er­ans’ bill once Con­gress re­turns later this month.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, a lib­er­al in­de­pend­ent from Ver­mont, pre­vi­ously said his le­gis­la­tion could be taken up on Feb. 6, but it got way­laid by a pair of pro­pos­als that sought to re­verse the roughly $6 bil­lion in cuts to vet­er­an pen­sions in­cluded in the Decem­ber budget agree­ment.

After a nearly two-month squabble over how to pay for the pen­sion fund­ing, the Sen­ate passed a bill Wed­nes­day that re­verses the 1 per­cent cut to work­ing-age re­tir­ees’ cost-of-liv­ing ad­just­ment by ex­tend­ing the se­quester on Medi­care spend­ing by a year.

Sanders’s le­gis­la­tion also re­verses the COLA cuts and tackles a swath of vet­er­ans is­sues, in­clud­ing health care, edu­ca­tion, and em­ploy­ment. Wheth­er the le­gis­la­tion will move for­ward with the pen­sion pro­vi­sion in­tact is un­clear. A staffer sug­ges­ted that if the Sen­ate passed oth­er COLA le­gis­la­tion, the Sanders pro­pos­al could be amended and the pro­vi­sion re­moved, or the Sen­ate could pass it as is.

Either way, Sanders is ex­pec­ted to re­ceive push­back on his le­gis­la­tion from Sen­ate Re­pub­lic­ans, and the meas­ure would face an up­hill — if not vir­tu­ally im­possible — battle in the House. Re­pub­lic­ans in both cham­bers are ob­ject­ing to Sanders’s use of Over­seas Con­tin­gency Op­er­a­tions funds to pay for a large chunk of the bill — which is ex­pec­ted to cost $24 bil­lion.

OCO funds have been used to pay for the wars in Ir­aq and Afgh­anistan; and Re­pub­lic­ans ar­gue that with most, if not all, U.S. troops ex­pec­ted out of Afgh­anistan by the end of this year, the OCO funds — which aren’t sub­ject to con­gres­sion­al budget caps — aren’t a re­li­able source of fund­ing for vet­er­ans.

The Sen­ate is ex­pec­ted to re­con­vene on Feb. 24, but it’s likely the vote to end de­bate on Sanders’s le­gis­la­tion won’t be taken up un­til later in the week. Sen­at­ors first have to deal with a hand­ful of nom­in­a­tions, a pro­cess that could be drawn out if the full de­bate time is used.

What We're Following See More »
PLANS TO CURB ITS POWER
Pruitt Confirmed As EPA Head
1 days ago
BREAKING
WOULD HAVE REPLACED FLYNN
Harward Turns Down NSC Job
2 days ago
THE LATEST

"Ret. Vice Adm. Bob Harward turned down President Donald Trump's offer to be national security adviser Thursday, depriving the administration of a top candidate for a critical foreign policy post days after Trump fired Michael Flynn." Among the potential reasons: his family, his lack of assurances that he could build his own team, and that "the White House seems so chaotic."

Source:
REVERSES OBAMA RULE
House Votes to Let States Block Planned Parenthood Funds
2 days ago
THE LATEST

"The House passed a resolution Thursday re-opening the door for states to block Planned Parenthood from receiving some federal funds. The measure, which passed 230-188, would reverse a last-minute rule from the Obama administration that said conservative states can't block the women's health and abortion provider from receiving family planning dollars under the Title X program."

Source:
FORMER PROSECUTOR
Alexander Acosta to Get Nod for Labor
2 days ago
THE LATEST
12:30 PRESS CONFERENCE
New Labor Secretary Announcement Coming
2 days ago
BREAKING
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login