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 CorkerGOP lawmaker: Time to work with Dems on healthcare GOP senator: I'm ready to work with Trump, Dems on healthcare Senators introduce new Iran sanctions MORE (Tenn.), Ron JohnsonRon JohnsonLawmakers share photos of their dogs in honor of National Puppy Day GOP targets Baldwin over Wisconsin VA scandal The Hill's Whip List: 36 GOP no votes on ObamaCare repeal plan MORE (Wis.) and Jeff SessionsJeff SessionsSanders: 'What do the Russians have on Mr. Trump?' Poll: Trump controversies make him more popular among supporters More than ever, Justice must demand a special prosecutor for Trump-Russia probe 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 McCainMcCain: Trump admin must fill State Dept. jobs McCain says he hasn't met with Trump since inauguration Overnight Defense: General warns State Department cuts would hurt military | Bergdahl lawyers appeal Trump motion | Senators demand action after nude photo scandal MORE (R-Ariz.) and Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman Bernie SandersBernie SandersSunday shows preview: Aftermath of failed healthcare bill Michael Moore warns Dems: Now is not the time to gloat Warren: 'Today is a great day... but I'm not doing a touchdown dance' 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 ReidThis obscure Senate rule could let VP Mike Pence fully repeal ObamaCare once and for all Sharron Angle to challenge GOP rep in Nevada Fox's Watters asks Trump whom he would fire: Baldwin, Schumer or Zucker 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.”