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Veterans Used as Pawns in Omnibus Bill

Today, the House will vote on the omnibus bill to fund all of the federal government for the remainder of the fiscal year.  There are obviously numerous problems with the bill, from funding Obamacare and Dodd-Frank to a laundry list of increases in spending and backdoor earmarks.  The Heritage Foundation has a good roundup of these items.

Additionally, the entire approach of this bill is offensive and an anathema to the sort of governance promised by House Republicans in 2010.  They pledged to review each issue separately and post legislation at least three days before holding a vote.  Well, this $1.1 trillion, 1586-page bill will be voted on without enough time for rank-and-file members of Congress to digest it.  There is certainly no open amendment process.  Not only does this bill fund Obamacare, the lack of commitment to pass individual appropriations bills through regular order will make it impossible to fight Obamacare in the upcoming budget for FY 2015.

What about in the Senate?  Will Republicans take a tougher stance on the bill there?  Well, of course not.  Once again, Mitch McConnell refuses to take a definitive stance, sounding more like a bystander or commentator than a conservative leader:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was still reviewing the bill on Tuesday and could vote against it, but he predicted enough Republicans would support it to give it the 60 votes needed for passage.

“My assumption is it will be passed,” he said. “You’d have to talk to members of the Appropriations Committee, but my understanding is a number of them intend to vote for the bill.” [The Hill]

It looks like another case of “hope yes, vote no.”

Putting aside the other issues in the bill, there is one aspect that has not gotten enough attention.  As Congressman Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) noted this morning at Breitbart, the omnibus essentially uses veterans as pawns for growing government in a backroom deal:

The same politicians who passed the misguided Ryan-Murray budget “deal” are now using disabled veterans to compel members of Congress to vote for the $1 trillion spending package. If you vote for the $1 trillion spending package, it unwinds the disabled veteran benefit cuts. If you vote against the $1 trillion spending package, you are “against the vets.”

People are sick of this type of politics. If the House Leadership wanted to unwind the disabled veteran benefit cuts, they could bring this single issue to the floor for a vote at any time and it would pass almost unanimously. In fact, 149 Members, including me, co-sponsored Representative Jeff Miller’s H.R. 3789, which does exactly that. Instead, Leadership tied it to a $1 trillion spending bill that no one will have time to read or understand.

Disabled veterans are not a bargaining chip.

These people knew they were punitively targeting veterans for cuts relative to the rest of the federal workforce.  Nonetheless, they supported the December deal.  Now they are using the omnibus to reinstate that funding, forcing members who never backed the deal in the first place to vote for the behemoth or be seen as opposing pension funding for disabled veterans.  Of course, nobody has the courage to reinstate the pension spending by eliminating refundable tax credits for illegal aliens.

Nonetheless, Bridenstine plans to vote no. He is not taking the bait. Nor should any other Republican member fall for this shameful subterfuge.

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