Vets group blasts ‘no’ votes on VA reform bill

A prominent veterans group on Thursday slammed three senators who voted against bipartisan legislation to rehab the Veterans Affairs Department’s healthcare system.

The three ‘no’ votes by Republican Sens. Bob CorkerBob CorkerThe Hill's 12:30 Report Iran nuclear deal still under threat — US must keep its end of the bargain Senate heads to new healthcare vote with no clear plan MORE (Tenn.), Ron JohnsonRon JohnsonGOP frets over stalled agenda Conservatives target Congress, not Trump, after healthcare collapse Healthcare push leaves Republicans in disarray MORE (Wis.) and Jeff SessionsJeff SessionsGrassley calls on 'leaker' to release Sessions-Russia conversation After White House communication team shake up, Trump still tweeting Past is prologue for Jeff Sessions: Why did the AG meet with a hate group? MORE (Ala.) “put dollars and cents above the interests of the nation’s veterans,” the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) said in a statement.

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“There is a cost of going to war that includes taking care of those who come home wounded, ill and injured, and if these three senators have determined that we can’t afford to properly care for our veterans, then they should seek employment elsewhere!” VFW National Commander William Thien said.

The measure, which passed the Senate in a 93-3 vote Wednesday, was brokered by Sen. John McCainJohn McCainSen. Flake's GOP challenger: McCain should resign The Hill's 12:30 Report Armed Services leaders appoint strategy panel members MORE (R-Ariz.) and Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman Bernie SandersBernie SandersParliamentarian deals setback to GOP repeal bill OPINION | Hey Dems, Russia won't define 2018, so why not fix your party's problems instead? OPINION | They told us to abandon ObamaCare — then came the resistance MORE (I-Vt). It grants new powers to the VA secretary to fire managers and allows veterans to seek private healthcare under certain circumstances.

In a statement following the vote, Johnson criticized Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidConservative Senate candidate calls on GOP to end filibuster Ex-Reid aide: McConnell's 'original sin' was casting ObamaCare as 'partisan, socialist takeover' GOP faces growing demographic nightmare in West MORE (D-Nev.) for rushing the bill to the floor without allowing lawmakers time to assess its long-term costs, saying the legislation would “spend more money to expand a broken system.”

He, along with Corker, defended their votes by pointing to a report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released less than an hour before the Senate vote that estimated the non-VA provider provision could increase spending by about $35 billion over the next 10 years.

Sessions opposed the legislation because he claimed it would bust the budget caps Congress put in place in 2012.

Thien dismissed those concerns, saying “the last thing veterans want to hear is flimsy excuses that won’t hold water.”

“When it comes to taking care of America’s veterans, there is no discussion,” he said. “Senators Corker, Johnson and Sessions should know this; veterans have long memories and veterans vote.”