Friday, February 28, 2014

Republicans Derailed Veteran Benefits Bill Over Iran Sanctions

Republicans derailed veteran benefits bill over Iran sanctions

Fri Feb 28, 2014 1:35AM

Republican lawmakers in the US Senate derailed a $21 billion bill to expand benefits for veterans and their families on Thursday over new sanctions against Iran.

The Senate Republicans, who wanted to attach an amendment to the bill that would impose new sanctions against Iran, used a procedural move to block the legislation and Democrats in the upper chamber of US Congress failed to secure 60 votes needed to keep the bill moving forward on a procedural budget vote.

The legislation could have provided $21 billion for medical, education, and job-training benefits for American veterans and their families.

“I thought that maybe, just on this issue, this Senate could come together and do the right thing for our veterans,” said Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders.

“I am going to keep going on this. We are not going to give up on our veterans,” added the independent senator from Vermont.

Earlier this week, Republican Senator Jerry Moran from Kansas also blocked a vote on military sexual assault legislation, saying an amendment on sanctions against Iran had to be added to the bills. The legislation called for the removal of sexual assault cases in the US military from the chain of command in order to encourage victims to report the crimes.

The Senate GOP’s push for new sanctions against Iran comes as US President Barack Obama has repeatedly said that he would veto any new anti-Iran sanctions passed by Congress.

Secretary of State John Kerry also said on Wednesday that the US must pursue negotiations with Iran instead of taking any action that could lead to war.

“That is an obligation we have as leaders to exhaust all the remedies available to you before you ask people to give up their lives and that is what we are doing,” Kerry told a group of reporters.

Kerry’s remarks echoed those made by the White House's National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan who said in January that the US lawmakers who are pushing for new sanctions against Iran want a war with the country and “should be up front with the American public and say so.”

A new study published by The Iran Project also shows that new sanctions against Iran sought by hawkish senators on Capitol Hill would undermine the ongoing negotiations over Iran’s nuclear energy program and “would increase the probability of war.”

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