An influential veterans group says a large number of lawmakers failed to help veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) Action Fund is releasing its congressional report card on veterans’ issues Wednesday. The organization gave as many as 154 lawmakers D’s and F’s, while only 20 House and Senate lawmakers scored an A+ for “exceptional” handling of veterans’ issues. Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), who is in a tough reelection race, is the only senator to earn the highest grade.
IAVA’s report card is based on lawmakers’ votes and sponsorship of bills in support of the organization’s legislative priorities, which include disability reform, predictable veterans’ affairs budgets and veterans’ employment and education, as well as eliminating veterans’ homelessness, improving healthcare for female veterans and easing the benefit claims process.
The veterans organization said the grades are based solely on IAVA’s legislative priorities and are blind to party and ideology.
“The nonpartisan report card is a critical tool for holding these lawmakers accountable and showing America just how little Congress got done this year for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans,” Paul Rieckhoff, founder and executive director of the IAVA Action Fund, said in an e-mailed statement. “Heading into the midterm elections, it is important that every American knows who in Washington really supports Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, and who is just full of hot air.”
Aside from Lincoln, House lawmakers earned the rest of the top distinctions. Reps. Jason Altmire (D-Pa.), John Boccieri (D-Ohio), Russ Carnahan (D-Mo.), Joe DonnellyJoe DonnellyThe Hill’s Whip List: Where Dems stand on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Senators introduce new Iran sanctions Senate Dems: We won't help pass additional health bills MORE (D-Ind.), Al GreenAl GreenDem claims, without evidence, that some Trump dossier allegations are true Softer Trump storms the Capitol Second Dem to boycott Trump speech to Congress MORE (D-Texas), Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.), Steve Kagen (D-Wis.), Dale Kildee (D-Mich.), Ann KirkpatrickAnn KirkpatrickWomen make little gains in new Congress McCain wins sixth Senate term In Arizona, history and voter registration data gives GOP edge MORE (D-Ariz.), Dan Maffei (D-N.Y.), Betsy Markey (D-Colo.), Kendrick Meek (D-Fla.), Allyson Schwartz (D-Pa.), Tim Walz (D-Minn.), Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), Mark Schauer (D-Mich.), Harry Mitchell (D-Ariz.), Tom Perriello (D-Va.) and Gary Peters (D-Mich.) are the other lawmakers who earned an A+.
Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) is the only politician in the upper chamber who outright failed IAVA’s scorecard, and for the second time in a row. DeMint is joined by several House lawmakers who also received an F, including Reps. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), Kay GrangerKay GrangerA guide to the committees: House Obama released 1M to Palestinians in final hours GOP recruitment goal: More women on ticket MORE (R-Texas), Jeff FlakeJeff FlakeOvernight Tech: SCOTUS hears venue shopping arguments | House to vote on broadband privacy | UK weighs in on encryption House to vote Tuesday on blocking Obama internet privacy rules Week ahead in tech: FCC privacy rules on the ropes MORE (R-Ariz.), John Lewis (D-Ga.), Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.), Steve King (R-Iowa), Ron Paul (R-Texas) and Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.).
The Senate leaders of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) and Richard BurrRichard BurrSenate committee to question Kushner over Russian meetings: report Devin Nunes has jeopardized the oversight role of Congress Schumer: Trump must apologize for wiretapping claim MORE (R-N.C.), scored a B and a C, respectively. The chairman and ranking member of the Armed Services Committee scored even lower: Sen. Carl LevinCarl LevinDevin Nunes has jeopardized the oversight role of Congress Ted Cruz wants to destroy the Senate as we know it A package proposal for repatriation MORE (D-Mich.) earned a C this year, while Sen. John McCainJohn McCainSenate takes up NATO membership for Montenegro A great military requires greater spending than Trump has proposed Cheney: Russian election interference could be ‘act of war’ MORE (R-Ariz.) earned a D.
The leading appropriators who control the Veterans’ Affairs budget and other veteran-related funding, Sens. Tim JohnsonTim JohnsonCourt ruling could be game changer for Dems in Nevada Bank lobbyists counting down to Shelby’s exit Former GOP senator endorses Clinton after Orlando shooting MORE (D-S.D.) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), scored an A and a D, respectively. Appropriations Defense leaders Sens. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) and Thad CochranThad CochranOvernight Defense: FBI chief confirms Trump campaign, Russia probe | Senators push for Afghan visas | Problems persist at veterans' suicide hotline Senators ask to include visas for Afghans in spending bill Shutdown politics return to the Senate MORE (R-Miss.) scored a B and a D, respectively.
Rep. Bob Filner (D-Calif.), the chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, did not fare any better than his Senate counterpart, Akaka. Filner scored a B, while ranking member Rep. Steve Buyer (R-Ind.) earned an F from IAVA. Rep. Zach Wamp (Tenn.), the leading Republican on veterans’ affairs matters, also received the failing grade, while Rep. Chet Edwards (Texas), the leading Democrat, earned an A.
Reps. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.), Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), Norm Dicks (D-Wash.) and Bill Young (R-Fla.), the leading lawmakers on military matters, also did not score very high. Skelton earned a B, McKeon and Dicks a C and Young an F.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) did not receive a grade because as Speaker she often does not cast votes. House Minority Leader John BoehnerJohn BoehnerBottom Line Trump, GOP fumble chance to govern ObamaCare gets new lease on life MORE (R-Ohio) was graded a D.