This morning, President Bush signed a war supplemental spending bill which included a doubling of GI Bill college benefits for troops and veterans. The Bush administration had resisted Sen. Jim Webb’s (D-VA) strong bipartisan effort to pass the bill, going so far as to warn of “harm” that might come from giving expanded educational benefits to soldiers who served “only” 2 years.
But today, Bush was all too happy to pat himself on the back for the GI Bill, and to laud the work of senators who tried to stand in the way of the bill’s passage:
The bill is a result of close collaboration between my administration and members of both parties on Capitol Hill. … I want to thank members who worked hard for the GI Bill expansion, especially Senators Webb and Warner, Graham, Burr, McCain. This bill shows that even in an election year, Democrats and Republicans can come together to stand behind our troops.
Sen. Lindsey Graham — a key McCain surrogate — urged his conservative colleagues to vote against Webb’s bill, claiming “we will get rewarded in the next election” for doing so. McCain, Burr, and Graham offered an alternative bill that was “seen as a way to convolute the GI bill.”
But once the House struck a deal pushing forward Webb’s legislation, McCain disingenuously tried to take credit for it. In fact, McCain didn’t even show up last week to vote on the GI bill legislation, which passed 92-6. The only other senator not present for the vote was Ted Kennedy (D-MA), who is battling a brain tumor.