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 »
STAKES ARE HIGH
Debate Could Sway One-Third of Voters
2 hours ago
THE LATEST

"A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found that 34% of registered voters think the three presidential debates would be extremely or quite important in helping them decide whom to support for president. About 11% of voters are considered 'debate persuadables'—that is, they think the debates are important and are either third-party voters or only loosely committed to either major-party candidate."

Source:
YOU DON’T BRING ME FLOWERS ANYMORE
Gennifer Flowers May Not Appear After All
2 hours ago
THE LATEST

Will he or won't he? That's the question surrounding Donald Trump and his on-again, off-again threats to bring onetime Bill Clinton paramour Gennifer Flowers to the debate as his guest. An assistant to flowers initially said she'd be there, but Trump campaign chief Kellyanne Conway "said on ABC’s 'This Week' that the Trump campaign had not invited Flowers to the debate, but she didn’t rule out the possibility of Flowers being in the audience."

Source:
HAS BEEN OFF OF NEWSCASTS FOR A WEEK
For First Debate, Holt Called on NBC Experts for Prep
2 hours ago
THE DETAILS

NBC's Lester Holt hasn't hosted the "Nightly News" since Tuesday, as he's prepped for moderating the first presidential debate tonight—and the first of his career. He's called on a host of NBC talent to help him, namely NBC News and MSNBC chairman Andy Lack; NBC News president Deborah Turness; the news division's senior vice president of editorial, Janelle Rodriguez; "Nightly News" producer Sam Singal, "Meet the Press" host Chuck Todd, senior political editor Mark Murray and political editor Carrie Dann. But during the debate itself, the only person in Holt's earpiece will be longtime debate producer Marty Slutsky.

Source:
WHITE HOUSE PROMISES VETO
House Votes to Bar Cash Payments to Iran
2 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"The House passed legislation late Thursday that would prohibit the federal government from making any cash payments to Iran, in protest of President Obama's recently discovered decision to pay Iran $1.7 billion in cash in January. And while the White House has said Obama would veto the bill, 16 Democrats joined with Republicans to pass the measure, 254-163."

Source:
NO SURPRISE
Trump Eschewing Briefing Materials in Debate Prep
2 hours ago
THE DETAILS

In contrast to Hillary Clinton's meticulous debate practice sessions, Donald Trump "is largely shun­ning tra­di­tion­al de­bate pre­par­a­tions, but has been watch­ing video of…Clin­ton’s best and worst de­bate mo­ments, look­ing for her vul­ner­ab­il­it­ies.” Trump “has paid only curs­ory at­ten­tion to brief­ing ma­ter­i­als. He has re­fused to use lecterns in mock de­bate ses­sions des­pite the ur­ging of his ad­visers. He prefers spit­balling ideas with his team rather than hon­ing them in­to crisp, two-minute an­swers.”

Source:
×