by Peter Freyne
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders serves on the Senate’s Veterans Affairs Committee, and though not a veteran himself, has been a prominent and steadfast supporter of veterans issues since first elected to the House in 1990.
The Vermont Independent was joined by representatives of the VFW and the Vermont Disabled American Veterans Monday as he announced he’s introducing The Comprehensive Veterans Benefits Improvements Act of 2007.
The bill would make 25 changes to veterans programs including boosting the auto allowance for disabled veterans and significantly reducing the current backlog of 400,000 veterans claims, especially with soldiers from the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan coming home to increase it.
And reporters questions soon turned to that current fighting in Iraq. Sanders was asked why the Democrat-controlled Congress does not simply cut funding for the war in Iraq?
The answer he said, is "the reality" of a presidential veto and "the reality" that Democrats have neither the votes to override that veto (two-thirds), nor the votes (60) to even end floor debate. Democrats only have 51 votes: 49 plus those of Independents Sanders of Vermont and Lieberman of Connecticut.
I can come up with any legislation I want tomorrow, and I am on, if you check the record, working with Russ Feingold and others, I’m on the strongest legislation to end this war through the budget process. We will see how many votes that gets. It will certainly be a fairly small minority," said Ol' Bernardo.
Sanders said our War in Iraq will only end when Republican congressman return to their districts and find constituents there telling them to stop the war.
A week ago, noted Sanders, Eleven Republicans from the House walked into the White House to complain about the Iraq War policy and then leaked the story. And apparently it was a very contentious debate. Karl Rove," he said, was not happy with that discussion.
The Republicans lost in 2006 and are very, very nervous,"said Sanders. " They are starting to understand that if they continue to support this war they’re going to lose badly in 2008."
Sounds hopeful, eh?
That's Ed Laviletta [right], VFW National Legislative Officer for Vermont.