Bernie Sanders: If You Can't Afford To Take Care Of Your Veterans, Don't Go To War

Sen. Bernie Sanders had a pretty simple answer for CNN's Wolf Blitzer when he asked him what he would say to his fellow members of Congress who claim that the United States can't afford to pay for expanded benefits for members of our military.
up

Sen. Bernie Sanders had a pretty simple answer for CNN's Wolf Blitzer when he asked him what he would say to his fellow members of Congress who claim that the United States can't afford to pay for expanded benefits for members of our military.

SANDERS: If you can't afford to take care of your veterans, then don't go to war. These people are bearing the brunt of what war is about. We have a moral obligation to support them.

At least Blitzer didn't force Bernie to have to debate wingnut Michele Bachmann to get some airtime this Wednesday and discuss the Republicans making good on their threat to filibuster veterans benefits.

Bernie Sanders Blasts Republicans For Trying to Torpedo Veterans Bill With Iran Sanctions:

Sen. Bernie Sanders blasted Senate Republicans today for trying to betray the nation’s veterans by attempting to kill the veterans bill with a demand for sanctions against Iran. [...]

Senate Republicans don’t want to cast a vote against veterans, but they don’t want the vets to have better benefits, so they are trying to add the poison pill of sanctions for Iran to the bill. Iran has nothing to do with taking care of veterans. The Iran sanctions demand is being used to hide the real reason why Republicans are doing their best to kill this bill. The truth is that Senate Republicans don’t want to support veterans.

Republicans are threatening to kill the veterans bill with obstruction if Harry Reid does not allow a vote on sanctions for Iran. They know that President Obama will never sign a bill that would destroy the current negotiations with Iran so Mitch McConnell and company are trying to set up a situation where they force a presidential veto, then claim that the president is not supporting veterans.

Here's more from Sanders' appearance on CNN:

BLITZER: A bill to expand health education and other benefits for veterans has easily cleared a Senate hurdle, but the fate of the bill remains uncertain right now and one reason is an alternate proposal that includes new sanctions against Iran, in addition to the expanded benefits for U.S. military veterans. Senator Bernie Sanders, the independent senator from Vermont, is crying foul over this move. He's joining us live from Capitol Hill. Senator, thanks very much for coming in.


↓ Story continues below ↓

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: My pleasure.

BLITZER: All right, so what's going on here? Because Americans are confused. I think almost everyone wants to see military veterans get better health and education benefits. What's the connection between a veteran's benefits bill and increasing sanctions towards Iran?

SANDERS: Well, that is a great question, and I think you're going to have to ask the Republican leadership that question. The fact of the matter is, we have introduced, with strong bipartisan support, Wolf, the most comprehensive veterans legislation introduced in decades. It's going to make sure that veterans who, for example, because of war wounds are unable to have children, we're going to help them do that. We're going to help Vietnam era veterans' families who are taking care of disabled vets get some support. We're going to make education easier for a lot of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. We're going to deal with some situations such that when the government was shut down, we almost -- we're not sending out checks to disabled vets. We're going to deal with that. We're going to provide, for the first time, open up dental care to veterans.

This is a comprehensive bill supported by the American Legion, the Disabled American Veterans, the Vietnam Veterans of America, the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. Virtually every veteran's organization in the country understands that the cost of war is real, and we have got to support those people who have put their lives on the line defending this country. And I think there is wide support across the country for this bill. I frankly think there's a lot of support in the Senate for this bill.

And now what is happening, for the same old stupid partisan reasons, the Republican leadership says, well, we want to attach to this bill Iran sanctions. And they know that this is something the president doesn't want. They know it's something that the secretary of state doesn't want at this point. They know that the Democratic leadership doesn't want it. And it's a means to torpedo what is such an important piece of legislation for millions of our veterans. And I really get very upset. I was pleased to see that groups like the American Legion, the largest veterans group in America, just came out, just a little while ago, and they say, let's debate veterans issues. Don't put (ph) the Iranian sanctions on this.

BLITZER: But as you know - as you know, senator, and you and I have been around Washington for a long time, it's one of the reasons outsiders really don't like Washington is because they get a piece of legislation, they throw all sorts of totally unrelated issues into that legislation. This is sort of standard operating procedure that's been going on in Washington for as long as I remember.

SANDERS: The answer is, yes and no. I mean it's certainly true and it is certainly what makes people so disgusted with what goes on in Washington. And the average American says, OK, you want to vote for the veteran's bill, vote for it. You want to vote against it, vote against it. You have amendments improving the bill, bring them forth. What does Iran sanctions have to do with the veterans' bill and it has nothing at all to do with the veterans' bill. That's the simple truth.

Now, what I hope very much is in this extremely partisan environment, the fact that we have a Congress that is virtually dysfunctional. I would hope that on this issue of supporting those people who sacrifice so much for their country, supporting their families, that we could, for this moment at least, rise above this absurd level of partisanship. And I hope that we will. I hope that we can get some Republican support for the bill.

BLITZER: One final question, senator. Assuming the Iran sanctions part is stripped out and it's not part of the bill, there are some oh who are worried about the cost of these expanded benefits for U.S. military veterans, health benefits, education benefits, social service benefits, all sorts of other benefits. And they say the country can't afford that right now, to which your reply is?

SANDERS: If you can't afford to take care of your veterans, then don't go to war. These people are bearing the brunt of what war is about. We have a moral obligation to support them.

BLITZER: Simple answer to the point. Senator, thanks very much for coming in. You'll keep us informed on what's going on up there.

SANDERS: I will. Thank you.

About Heather

Comments

We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Please refer to our Terms of Service for information on our posting policy.