This vote was on a motion to send the bill that funds military construction and Veterans Affairs back to the Appropriations Committee to cut funding for member pet projects, and instead increase funding for caregivers of disabled veterans. The motion was made by Tom Coburn, R-Okla.
Coburn offered the amendment to give caregivers of disabled veterans from prior wars access to federal funding. A bill the Senate was set to consider later would only deem veterans eligible for such funding if the veteran served after Sept. 10, 2001.
“The whole purpose of this motion … is to do two things: One, send the committee back and eliminate the discrimination against veterans [from past wars] who have identical needs that require family caregivers and include them in it. The second aspect of the motion to commit is to find it from the available funds we have today. We suggest some opportunity for that but don’t mandate where it comes from. But we should reduce spending somewhere else to pay for this,” Coburn said.
Tim Johnson, D-S.D., said he supports the notion of giving more aid to caregivers of disabled veterans, but said there is a separate bill that addresses the issue and that it would be better to move the two bills separately.
“The MILCON-VA bill before the Senate is a good piece of legislation. Likewise, the veterans caregiver assistance authorization bill is important legislation. The two bills should not be confused. Congress should pass both the MILCON/VA appropriations bill and the caregivers assistance authorization bill without further delay,” Johnson said.
By a vote of 24-69, the motion was rejected. Of Republicans present, 22 voted for the motion and 15 voted against it. All but two Democrats present voted against the motion. The end result is that the motion to have the committee decrease members’ pet project spending in favor of increased spending on caregivers for disabled veterans was defeated, and debate on the bill that funds military construction and VA programs in fiscal 2010 continued.