Veterans Groups ‘Didn’t Have That Much Input’ On ‘Very Partisan’ Graham-McCain GI Bill

mccainweb.jpgLast month, the Senate passed Sen. Jim Webb’s (D-VA) 21st Century GI Bill on a veto-proof 75-22 vote. Steve Robertson, the American Legion’s legislative affairs director, said Webb’s bill “was clearly a cooperative operation, bipartisan and with involvement with the veterans service organizations,” adding, “That’s why I think everyone’s pretty much in sync with it … it was a group effort.”

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) not only skipped the vote on Webb’s bill, but he and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) also failed to include veterans’ concerns while drafting their competing measure. Veterans groups said they were not consulted for the Graham-McCain version of the GI Bill, calling their measure “very partisan“:

We didn’t have that much input into [the Republican version] – there was no dialogue to my knowledge other than ‘this is it,’” Mr. Robertson said. […]

The Graham-Burr-McCain plan is “very partisan and is seen as a way to convolute the GI bill, or to slow the Webb-Hagel proposal down,” [VFW’s deputy director for legislative affairs Eric] Hilleman said.

This isn’t the first time McCain has ignored veterans concerns. While he has claimed that he has “received the highest award from literally every veterans organization in America,” it seems he has some trouble with the literal meaning of “literally”:

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America gave McCain a grade of D for his record of voting against veterans. (By contrast, Obama got a B+.)

Disabled Veterans of America noted McCain’s dismal 20 percent voting record on veterans’ issues. (Obama had an 80 percent.)

— In a list of “Key Votes,” Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) notes McCain “Voted Against Us” 15 times and “Voted For Us” only 8. (Obama voted for VVA 12 times, and against only once.)

Last month, McCain said, “I take a back seat to no one in my affection, respect and devotion to veterans,” except when in comes to rewarding them for their sacrifices.