Last-Minute Flip Opens Window for Veterans’ Benefits Bill

Major hurdles to passage remain.

 Corporal Arnold Franco, who served in the United States Army from 1943 to 1945 rides in a vehicle during the Veteran's Day Parade on November 11, 2013 in New York City.
National Journal
Stacy Kaper
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Stacy Kaper
Feb. 10, 2014, 11:01 a.m.

Just hours be­fore a sure-to-fail vote to re­store more than $6 bil­lion in fund­ing for mil­it­ary be­ne­fits, Sen­ate Demo­crats and Re­pub­lic­ans now ap­pear ready to move the meas­ure for­ward.

Last week, Demo­crats had planned a Monday night vote to re­store the fund­ing, which was cut as part of Decem­ber’s budget deal. They as­sumed Re­pub­lic­ans would block the bill be­cause it lacked a spend­ing off­set and would in­crease the na­tion­al de­fi­cit.

But by Monday, just hours ahead of the vote, seni­or Re­pub­lic­an and Demo­crat­ic Sen­ate aides said that they ex­pec­ted the cham­ber to eas­ily find the re­quired 60 votes to pro­ceed to a de­bate on re­vers­ing the cuts. The en­su­ing de­bate on how to un­wind the cuts is likely take up most of the week.

The meas­ure, however, still has to clear sev­er­al hurdles. Re­pub­lic­ans are still balk­ing at the lack of a budget off­set, and they plan to push for changes to it as it moves for­ward.

A seni­or Re­pub­lic­an aide said Re­pub­lic­ans felt the vet­er­ans is­sue was too im­port­ant to let pass an op­por­tun­ity to move the meas­ure for­ward. So in­stead of block­ing the bill, the aide said, they’re try­ing to force Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Harry Re­id to al­low de­bate on Re­pub­lic­an amend­ments that would pay for the cost of re­vers­ing the pen­sion pro­vi­sion.

Sev­er­al Sen­ate Re­pub­lic­ans have ral­lied around an idea from New Hamp­shire Re­pub­lic­an Sen. Kelly Ayotte that aims to close loop­holes to pre­vent un­doc­u­mented im­mig­rants from en­joy­ing the child tax cred­it.

Some seni­or Demo­crats like Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee Chair­man Carl Lev­in, of Michigan have pre­ferred a pay­for from New Hamp­shire Demo­crat Sen. Jeanne Shaheen that would close off­shore tax loop­holes.

Either pay­for is con­sidered a non­starter to the op­pos­ite polit­ic­al party.

What We're Following See More »
Federal Appeals Court Upholds Ruling Against Travel Ban
5 hours ago

The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals "has upheld the nationwide block of President Donald Trump's executive order restricting travel from several predominantly Muslim countries. ... It upholds the suspension of a revised version of the executive order that the Trump administration crafted to better hold up to legal scrutiny than an earlier version."

Court Upholds Block On Travel Ban
5 hours ago
Lieberman Withdraws from Consideration for FBI Job
6 hours ago
U.S. Destroyer Sails Close to Artificial Chinese Island
8 hours ago

A Navy destroyer sailed within 12 miles of an artificial island built by China in the South China Sea, one of several such islands at the center of territorial disputes with other nearby nations. The U.S. called it a "freedom of navigation exercise." Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang "said China had lodged stern representations to the U.S over the patrol and that such moves were not conducive to peace and stability in the South China Sea."

Trump Tells NATO Countries To Pay Up
9 hours ago

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.