What: All Issues : War & Peace : Respect for International Law & the United Nations : S 1963. (Veterans’ family caregiver assistance) Coburn of Oklahoma amendment that would require the bill’s costs to be paid for by reducing contributions to international organizations such as the United Nations/On agreeing to the amendment (2009 senate Roll Call 351)
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S 1963. (Veterans’ family caregiver assistance) Coburn of Oklahoma amendment that would require the bill’s costs to be paid for by reducing contributions to international organizations such as the United Nations/On agreeing to the amendment
senate Roll Call 351     Nov 19, 2009
Progressive Position:
Nay
Progressive Result:
Win

This vote was on an amendment by Tom Coburn, R-Okla., that would have required funding for a veteran’s care bill to be paid for by reducing contributions to international organizations and peacekeeping activities. It also would expand the eligibility beyond those injured after Sept. 10, 2001, to cover veterans of past wars. The amendment was offered to a bill that would authorize about $3.7 billion for programs aimed at easing burdens of caregivers for veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, including health care, counseling and other support.

Coburn said he supports the goals of the bill but that Congress needs to find some way to pay for it instead of just increasing the deficit. He said one way to do that would be to stop funding the United Nations and use that money for this program instead.

“You get to decide whether you want to continue to send money to an organization that is bankrupt, fraudulent; has peacekeeping troops that rape men, women, and children; has absolutely no transparency in spite of our law that demands it, or to pay for the courage and the support of people who do deserve it,” Coburn said. “But for $3.7 billion to help the people who help us and quit sending money that goes down the tube—half of everything we send to the United Nations gets wasted or defrauded—it is time for us to make the hard choice.”

Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, said the amendment could have the effect of denying caregiver assistance “by significantly narrowing the eligibility criteria for caregiver assistance.”

“While the amendment seeks to ‘pay for’ the costs associated with this bill, I understand from the Congressional Budget Office, however, that this amendment does not even accomplish what I believe the amendment’s author intends,” Akaka said. “Every major veterans group supports the underlying bill because of what it means for all veterans—for women veterans, for homeless veterans, and for veterans of every era. I urge a “no” vote on the amendment.”

By a vote of 32-66, the amendment was rejected. Of Republicans present, 31 voted for the amendment and 9 voted against it. All but one Democrat voted against the amendment. The end result is that the measure went forward without language that would have paid for the cost of a veterans’ caregiver assistance bill by defunding U.S. payments to the United Nations.

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