Kansas City Star. July 28, 2022.
Editorial: Blunt, Hawley, Marshall betray sick veterans because they’re mad at tax, climate bill
Three of the region’s four U.S. senators decided Wednesday to hold sick veterans hostage to their own anger. It’s appalling and childish.
The senators — Roy Blunt and Josh Hawley of Missouri, and Roger Marshall of Kansas — voted against blocking a filibuster of the PACT Act, a measure designed to provide funding to treat veterans exposed to toxins and burn pits.
The bill has been under discussion for years. It would cost about $30 billion annually, a pittance in a multitrillion-dollar federal budget. But the cost is less important than the cause: The nation has promised to help sick veterans, and voted Wednesday to break that promise.
“If you have the guts to send somebody to war, then you better have the guts to take care of them when they get home,” Sen. Jon Tester of Montana said on the Senate floor, to little effect.
The vote to end the filibuster was 55 yes to 42 no (Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer switched his vote to “no” in order to bring the measure back later.) In the Senate, of course, it takes 60 votes to open a can of bean soup, so the bill remains unpassed, while veterans suffer and die.
The votes should infuriate Kansans and Missourians. The three senators voted for a virtually identical bill in June, which passed overwhelmingly. Blunt even bragged about it: “Blunt votes in favor of historic, bipartisan bill to ensure health care and benefits for toxic-exposed veterans,” his press release said.
Why the change of heart now?
Here’s one suggestion: Senate Republicans were furious at a budget deal, announced just moments earlier, between Schumer and Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Manchin agreed to support a budget bill raising corporate taxes to pay for deficit reduction and climate change mitigation.
The tax and budget bill would need a simple majority to pass, not 60 votes. That made Republicans mad.
So let’s get this straight: Because Blunt, Hawley and Marshall were angry about a tax and climate bill, they decided to make veterans suffer? It boggles the mind.
“How dare they use veterans as a bargaining chip,” Sen. Patty Murray, a Democrat, said in a tweet.
Comedian and activist Jon Stewart, who came to Kansas City this summer to urge progress on the PACT proposal, was equally furious. “Not one of these stab vets in the back senators should get to leave for the Summer til this s(asterisk)(asterisk)(asterisk) is fixed,” he tweeted. “Not one.”
We agree. If you need a precise picture of why Congress is broken, Wednesday’s vote is as good as any: In a fit of pique over an unrelated compromise, Senate Republicans punished veterans struggling to breathe.
We should pause here to thank Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas, who was one of just eight Republicans who voted in support of veterans. We congratulate him on his good sense, and hard work for veterans. We wish he would share both with his colleagues.
The other three senators should apologize, and vote to proceed to the bill if — when — it comes back to the Senate floor. If they want to oppose the Schumer-Manchin tax and climate bill on its merits, they are free to do so later.
Until then, Sens. Blunt and Marshall should be disinvited from any Veterans Day service or Memorial Day observance until the PACT Act is signed into law.
Josh Hawley? No need to worry. If he sees an upset veteran approaching, he’ll run the other way.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch. July 30, 2022.
Editorial: Suddenly in Missouri, McConnell is evil incarnate among GOP Senate candidates
These must seem like crazy times for anyone considering a vote in Tuesday’s Republican primary. In normal times, if there ever was such a thing, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell would be heralded as the party’s hero, the man who single-handedly swung the Supreme Court to the right and achieved the GOP’s top goal of overturning federal abortion rights. Yet in Missouri, McConnell apparently is evil incarnate.
It started with disgraced former Gov. Eric Greitens’ attacks on McConnell as mastermind of the nasty child-custody battle being waged by Greitens’ ex-wife, Sheena. There’s not a shred of evidence to back Eric Greitens’ claim of top-level Republican collusion to undermine his U.S. Senate campaign. But the attack on McConnell helps distract Missouri Republicans from the elephant in the room: that Greitens is an admitted adulterer and credibly accused abuser.
Suddenly, Greitens’ two top Republicans opponents, Attorney General Eric Schmitt and Rep. Vicky Hartzler, have decided to adopt his strategy and make McConnell the enemy. At issue is whether McConnell should continue as the Senate Republican leader.
“Mitch McConnell hasn’t endorsed me, and I don’t endorse him for leadership,” Schmitt bluntly told NBC affiliate KOMU-TV. Schmitt has been holding out the hope for weeks that former President Donald Trump, a harsh McConnell critic, might endorse him. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, reviled even among his GOP colleagues, is among the few high-profile Republicans endorsing Schmitt, who says he would back a Cruz bid for the leadership.
Hartzler also won’t support McConnell, suggesting he’s too wishy-washy. “We need a true conservative leader who will stand up to Joe Biden and turn things around,” she said. McConnell backed bipartisan gun legislation, following a series of horrific mass shootings, that offers financial incentives to states that adopt red-flag laws and other gun-safety measures. Hartzler labeled it “kowtowing to Chuck Schumer.”
Adding to the confusion, Democrats in other states are actively promoting the campaigns of the most extreme Republican candidates, calculating that the extremists would pose such an abhorrent option that GOP moderates would vote for Democrats instead. In Michigan, for example, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has spent $435,000 to promote former Trump administration official John Gibbs against incumbent Republican Rep. Peter Meijer. Gibbs (like Cruz) promotes Trump’s big lie that he was robbed of the 2020 presidential election. Meijer was one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump — making him one of the good guys who prioritized country over party.
This is a dangerous game for Democrats because they need only look at the 2016 result to grasp how badly assumptions of GOP voting behavior can backfire. And if Republicans think they can do better than McConnell, they would be smart to reexamine his record. Just because McConnell refuses to kiss Trump’s ring, or other parts of his anatomy, doesn’t cancel his solidly conservative achievements.