The most recent VA benefit bill rejected by the Senate was considered an opportunity for comprehensive veterans health and benefit reform including the Military Retirement Restoration Act of 2014. The 140 provisions included in this broad reaching bill could have been the cause of its demise on the Senate floor. Provisions ranged from dental health to adoption assistance, from employment training to administrative improvements for filing VA claims.
We owe veterans so much and this defeated bill had addressed many of their needs. Over two dozen veteran’s interest groups, including the politically savvy American Legion and the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), threw their support in for this bill. Still, members of the Republican Party just couldn’t fathom funding the vast expansion of VA benefits that this bill called for.
The bill in whole would have cost the federal government 21 billion over the course of 10 years to be funded in large part by our troop withdrawal from Iraq and the lessening of our troop presence in Afghanistan. The Republican senators simply did not agree that the unspent money from overseas troop withdrawal would be sufficient to fund this bill. Overall the dissenters claimed that this bill was; too large, too costly, and too cumbersome for the already beleagued Department of Veteran Affairs.
A chance to increase funding for medical care, education, and job-training benefits would seem like a good package for all. Perhaps the bill simply fell victim to election-year jitters.