MODERN DAY GI BILL PASSES BY WIDE MARGIN IN THE HOUSE-- McCAIN & McCONNELL VOW TO KILL IT IN THE SENATE
Although the fight that matters will be in the Senate, the House passed the bill to modernize the GI Bill today, HR 2642, 256-166. Those numbers are pretty overwhelming and the reflect the fact that 32 Republicans crossed the aisle to vote against Bush and their own reactionary leadership and for our military vets. At the same time, the Blue Dog caucus was unable to muster it's own members to bolster their Republican allies. Only 7 of the sleaziest and most Bush-oriented Democrats voted against vets today:
Melissa Bean (IL)
Dan Boren (OK)
Joe Donnelly (IN)
Brad Ellsworth (IN)
Nick Lampson (TX)
Tim Mahoney (FL)
Jim Matheson (UT)
Our newest conservative Democrats, Don Cazayoux (LA) and Bill Foster (IL) both voted with the Democrats on this crucial bill, Foster even stepping away from Bean's apron strings. This bill will allow vets who fought in Afghanistan and Iraq to go to college-- just what it was intended to do. McCain and McConnell have vowed to kill the bill in the Senate.
I took a look at the Blue America House races to see how the Republican opponents of our candidates-- all of whom support the bill-- voted Most of them voted against vets, as they usually do. Joining the dead-end minority today were Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Tim Walberg (R-MI), Scott Garrett (R-NJ), David Dreier (R-CA), Ric Keller (R-FL), Randy Kuhl (R-NY), Michael McCaul (R-TX), Gary Miller (R-CA), Mike Pence (R-IN), Dave Reichert (R-WA), Dana Rohrabacher (R-OH), and Mean Jean Schmidt (R-OH). Heather Wilson (R-NM) is running for Senate and she stuck with Bush, as she usually does. John Doolittle (R-CA) is retiring under a cloud of corruption charges and he also stuck with Bush.
Interestingly, some of the tightest and most competitive races we're following saw die-hard reactionaries abandoning Bush, not because they wanted to or because they suddenly want to help vets, but because they are scared to death that they're about to lose their cushy jobs. John Barrow, a Georgia Blue Dog who almost always supports Bush on these matters is so frightened of the surging state Senator from Savannah, Regina Thomas, that he actually abandoned his usual stance and voted, reluctantly, with the Democrats. Same story in Iowa, where Leonard Boswell's fear of Ed Fallon voters caused him to vote like a Democrat for a change. Republicans Robin Hayes, Chris Shays and Charlie Dent are so worried about the likelihood that they will be defeated by, respectively, Larry Kissell, Jim Himes and Sam Bennett that each switched positions and voted with the Democrats today.
Up top you see a picture of Blue America candidate Russ Warner and his son, Greg, currently back from active duty in Iraq and studying at West Point. Click on that and see what Russ and Greg have to say about this war and how Bush has botched every aspect of it. Here's what Russ had to say about the vote today, after Dreier (whose net worth has increased by over $10,000,000 since he's come to Congress) again demonstrated that he is incapable of any kind of action accept rubber stamping all that Bush sends down the pike:
"I would have voted differently on this bill. It's important to make the veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan part of an American economic recovery, just like the veterans of World War II were. They put their lives on the line for us, and deserve to be able to come home and go to school if they so choose. We need new leaders with new priorities in Washington, and that's why I'm running for Congress. I believe that fully equipping our soldiers, providing them with good medical care and paying them a fair wage should be considered costs of war. But David Dreier seems to believe that we don't owe our veterans anything."
Nor was Russ the only Blue America candidate furious about how their opponent refused to stray away from Bush long enough allow our military vets this one hard earned benefit. We also spoke with Larry Joe Doherty in less-red-by-the-day Texas. Like many Texans, Larry was steamed. "Michael McCaul has voted against health care for veterans. He's voted against disability coverage for veterans. Now he's voted against education for veterans. He'll vote any sum of money necessary to put them in harm's way, but he won't help them get ahead in America when they come home. They come home wearing a badge of honor, and are denied the opportunity to get ahead. This is a disgrace." It is a disgrace. At election time McCaul is always trying to smear Democrats by screaming that only he supports the troops. Well, since Tom DeLay created a district for him, McCaul has voted 18 times on vet-related matters. And guess what-- he voted all 18 times against them. He has the worst voting record in Congress. He's also voted 15 times on issues directly impacting the well being of our active duty military personnel-- you know, the troops he claims to support. Well, he's voted against our troops' well being all 15 times. And don't be shocked to read that David Dreier has the exact same rubber stamp record as McCaul-- zero votes for vets and zero votes for our troops well-being! David Dreier and Michael McCaul have a clear message for our troops and our vets-- a middle finger-- and it's a very different message than the one they send to corrupt military contractor and war profiteers. If you'd like to send a message to David Dreier and Michael McCaul, you can contribute whatever you can spare to Russ Warner and Larry Joe Doherty.
UPDATE: REMEMBER MEAN JEAN SCHMIDT?
She first came onto the national scene by embarrassing herself, her party, her colleagues and her constituents by smearing decorated war hero and ex-Marine colonel Jack Murtha. Today she proved once again that she hasn't learned a thing in the interim and still has no regard for our fighting men and women or our vets. I asked Victoria Wulsin if she had heard about Mean Jean's anti-vet vote-- her 7th anti-vet vote since being elected. "Rep. Schmidt's vote is nothing short of an embarrassment to the people of Southern Ohio. To deny the brave men and women who serve this country financial security and opportunity is unconscionable."