Morning Action: Veterans Bill That Would Harm Veterans Passes Early Hurdle

VETERANS BILL.  The veterans bill expanding health care, education and other benefits for veterans passed an early hurdle in the Senate Tuesday.  They will resume consideration today and will likely vote on the motion to proceed to the bill Thursday:

A sprawling Democratic bill expanding health, education and other benefits for veterans easily cleared an early Senate hurdle on Tuesday. But the election-year measure still faces an uncertain fate as Republicans battle to make it smaller and find ways to pay for it.

By a 99-0 vote, senators agreed to begin debating the legislation, which sponsor Sen. Bernie Sanders, chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, says would cost $21 billion over the coming decade. That opened the door to what is likely to be days of GOP efforts to pare it down and lessen its impact on budget deficits.

By the time the Senate reaches a final showdown vote, the bill could confront GOP lawmakers with an uncomfortable campaign-season test over curbing spending for the nation’s 22 million veterans and their families. Most veterans groups support the legislation, and the voting bloc they represent is a potent one that both parties usually try to avoid offending.

Here is our key vote against the bill, where we note, “This massive expansion of eligibility would further prevent those truly in need from receiving the care they need because the program would have to service a much larger pool of veterans.”

FLOOD INSURANCE.  The House has not yet come to an agreement on the GOP flood insurance bill, which would wrongfully delay necessary reforms to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP):

GOP and Democratic leaders continued to negotiate late Tuesday over a Republican bill that would reinstate lower, subsidized flood insurance rates for homes in more flood-prone areas and allow new owners to keep subsidized rates following a home’s sale.


The Republican bill, introduced Friday, also is supported by most of the state’s Congressional delegation, including U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, one of its co-authors. He said he is confident that a compromise with bill opponents can be worked out.

“The goal was to repeal Section 207 and restore grandfathering again, so existing flood policy holders would be grandfathered in with a limit on increases,” Scalise said, referring to the provision in the Biggert-Waters Act that eliminated grandfathered lower rates. 

In our key vote against the bill, we note, “Taxpayers should not be forced to continue subsidizing high-risk development of flood-prone areas.”

TAX REFORM.  The Heritage Foundation’s senior economist Stephen Moore discusses the tax reform debate occurring in the House:

Our corporate tax rate is now the highest in the industrialized world at 35 percent—because almost all other nations have slashed their business taxes to attract jobs and businesses. This high corporate rate in practice acts as a tariff on the goods and services we produce in the United States. Our analysts at Heritage find that this lowers wages of American workers. Want to give U.S. workers a raise? Cut the tax rates on businesses so they invest more here.

Camp aims to fix all of this by rewriting the tax code, and that starts with lowering tax rates across the board and eliminating loopholes.

He would shrink the current seven income tax brackets down to three: 10 percent, 25 percent, and 35 percent for those families with incomes above $450,000. That highest rate of 35 percent is still too high and an unnecessary nod to the class warriors on the left, but it would be an improvement on the current Obama rate of more than 40 percent.

RELIGIOUS LIBERTY.  The Heritage Foundation’s Ryan T. Anderson defends the Arizona religious liberty bill against attacks from the New York Times:

The headline reads “A License to Discriminate.” And the New York Times editorial board goes on to claim that Arizona has just passed “noxious measures to give businesses and individuals the broad right to deny services to same-sex couples in the name of protecting religious liberty.” The Times got it wrong. The proposed legislation never even mentions same-sex couples; it simply clarifies and improves existing state protections for religious liberty. And as the multitude of lawsuits against the coercive HHS mandate and the cases of photographers, florists and bakers show, we need protection for religious liberty now more than ever.


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