Thursday, October 16, 2008

Minnick slams Sali for veterans votes

By John Foster - Thursday, October 16, 2008 at 11:25 PM

Bill Sali has a poor record on veterans issues. As Walt pointed out earlier this week at a campaign forum, that record does not match Sali’s campaign-year rhetoric.


Missed a vote providing full funding for programs to help veterans with traumatic brain injuries. Sali skipped a vote on a bill co-sponsored by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA). The bill included programs helping to rehabilitate wounded soldiers returning from combat with brain injuries. (That includes an estimated two-thirds of those who injured.

Voted against G.I. education, benefits. Sali voted against a motion to concur amendments to appropriate $21.2 billion for domestic programs, military construction and foreign aid programs. The amendment would provide a permanent expansion of education benefits for post-Sept. 11 veterans, offset with a 0.47 percent surtax on modified adjusted gross income above $500,000 per year for individuals and $1 million for couples. The bill also increased benefits under the GI BILL to be paid in amounts linked to the amount of active duty served in the military after 9/11. Generally, veterans would receive some amount of assistance proportional to their service for 36 months, which equals four academic years.

Voted against help for veteran-owned small businesses. Sali voted against passage of the bill that would reauthorize the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs through fiscal 2010. The bill would give preference in awarding grants to businesses that are owned by veterans, located in areas with high unemployment or that have taken steps to increase energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions.

Opposed budget with record increases for veterans. Conference report on the 2008 budget saved veterans from paying increased healthcare fees totaling $355 million in 2008 and $2.3 billion over five years. The President’s budget imposed those new enrollment fees and increases copayments. Click here to see the bill and click here to see the vote.

Budget was praised by veterans’ groups. The 2008 budget, which Sali voted against, was praised by several veterans’ groups. According to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the budget represented a “historic $6.7 billion increase” over the previous year’s budget.  According to the American Legion, “The American Legion and its 2.8 million members applaud ... the Fiscal Year 2008 Budget Resolution.” According to the Military Officers Association of America, “...the resolution makes a strong statement of Congress’s commitment to restoring national confidence that our wounded warriors will receive the kind of first-quality care and services that they have earned...”

Voted against bill with funding for veterans health. In March 2007, Sali voted against the Fiscal 2007 supplemental. The measure included $550 million to address the maintenance backlog at VA health care facilities to prevent situations similar to those at Walter Reed; $250 million for medical administration to ensure sufficient personnel to address the rising number of veterans and to maintain a high level of service; $229 million for treating the growing number of veterans; $100 million to allow the VA to contract with private mental healthcare providers to offer veterans, including Guard and reserve members, quality and timely care; and, $62 million to speed claims processing for returning veterans. 

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