AMVETS Exec. Dir. slams House Democrats over 'missed opportunity' for vets

Eric Dehm
March 22, 2018 - 3:31 pm

(U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Michelle Gonzalez)

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When the House of Reprsentatives voted to pass the omnibus spending bill earlier today, several veteran-specific items that had been included in earlier versions were no where to be found. These included expansions to benefits available for caregivers of vets disabled prior to the September 11th attacks, as well as an assessment of the VA's properties and a more permanent fix to funding for the VA Choice program.

Items are added to, or taken out of, legislation constantly but the reason for these items being removed has veterans advocates and organizations seeing red. AMVETS Executive Directorm, Joe Chenelly, said during an appearance on the Morning Briefing radio show that while Senate Democrats were all for the inclusion of these important veteran-related aspects of the bill, many House Democrats did not want to vote for the omnibus. He says the Deomcrats used a purely political rationale for removing parts of the bill that had the support of the other three-fourths of Congress, and all the major VSOs, from a bill that they knew was likely to pass.

"I don't usually like to talk 'party' but the House Democrats do not want to vote for the omnibus," Chenelly said in the interview hours before the house would vote to pass the bill. "They're going to vote against it, but they don't want to vote against veterans, so they don't want something good for veterans in the omnibus."

Chenelly says the motivation behind this move is clear, and particularly egregious considering that many of those who pushed for blocking the items had voiced support for them within the last few weeks. He also says that what's been done here, removing something from a bill so you can vote against that bill without consequence is not going to go unnoticed by his organization, the vet community, or the general public.

"They think they can get away wth not having to have on their record, not being accused through the next campaign cycle of voting against veterans," Chenelly said. "Well, this is what they did by blocking this from going in. There won't be a roll-call vote that has veterans issues on it now here in the next day and a half, and that's what they wanted. The bottom line is we're gonna remember and we're gonna hold them accountable."

With midterm elections just eight months away, those words may be chilling to those who moved to block these massive, positive changes for veterans.

The full interview segment with Chenelly focusing on the omnibus is available below. Click Play to stream now, or to download click Share and select Download from the available options.