A veterans’ group slammed Senate Democrats Thursday for apparently using dishonest arguments in refusing to pass the Department of Veterans Affairs budget.
Democrats, notably Sen. Richard Blumenthal, are concerned about budget cuts to the nearly $164 billion 2016 VA appropriations bill. The legislation failed 50-44 because it didn’t achieve the 60 votes necessary to pass. Even if it were to pass, the White House said Thursday it would issue a veto.
“It has no chance of getting 60 votes. None. I know that. The Republican leader knows that. So why are we wasting time on votes destined to fail?” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said before the vote, according to The Hill.
But according to Concerned Veterans for America CEO Pete Hegseth, the bill actually increases discretionary spending by 5 percent, even though Democrats have referred the legislation as a cut.
“Only in Washington is a budget increase considered a budget cut,” Hegseth said in a statement. “Senators Blumenthal, Reid and their allies in Congress are being dishonest with veterans and with all taxpayers when they call this a ‘budget cut’ simply because it does not fully fund the president’s ill-advised budget proposal.”
White House officials said in a statement that President Barack Obama “has been clear that he is not willing to lock in sequestration going forward, nor will he accept fixes to defense without also fixing non-defense.”
Republican lawmakers struck back, with Sen. Bill Cassidy saying that preventing the bill’s passage not only affects veterans but active-duty military troops, as well.
Only one Democrat, Sen. Joe Donnelly, decided to vote in favor of the bill.
“Our commitment to supporting veterans should be something we can all agree on. However, we must also remember that supporting veterans and their families goes beyond the VA’s budget,” Donnelly said in a statement.
This is the first time the VA budget has been blocked this year.
Funding is set to expire Dec. 11, meaning that GOP Majority Leader Mitch McConnell still has time to hash out a budget deal with Democrats.
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