Senate Showdown on Sweeping Veterans Benefits Bill

Today, the U.S. Senate will resume consideration of a Democrat-backed bill that would expand health care, education, and job-training benefits for veterans, the Associated Press reported.

The Comprehensive Veterans Health and Benefits and Military Retirement Pay Restoration Act of 2014 (S. 1982), authored by Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-VT), would guarantee in-state tuition for veterans who recently left the military, reauthorize the VA's work-study program and instate a host of other reports and sweeping policy changes.

While both political parties generally favor helping the nation's 22 million veterans and their families, Republicans consider the wide-ranging legislation too expensive, according to AP. In addition, GOP lawmakers want to add a provision imposing new sanctions on Iran for its nuclear program.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has blocked a vote on amendments, eliminating some of the improvements and the sanctions on Iran. Citing Reid's move, Republicans are expected to rally behind a procedural effort to derail the bill. President Barack Obama strongly opposes the additional sanctions, saying international talks on Iran's nuclear program must be given more time.

Sen. Sanders said it would be "extremely disrespectful to the men and women who have put their lives on the line" to block the massive measure because of the dispute over Iran.

The legislation also faces tough odds in the House, where Republicans have previously opposed the means the bill uses to pay for the benefits increase.


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The Associated Press