Earlier today, President Bush delivered his final speech as president to the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and once again — like Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) two days prior — tried to portray himself as a champion of the 21st century GI Bill. Bush said that his administration worked “closely and effectively” with the VFW. As an example, he cited the legislation:
BUSH: When the history of the last eight years is finally written, it will show how closely and effectively my administration and the VFW have worked together on behalf of America’s veterans. [...] Earlier this year, I was pleased to sign a piece of legislation that the VFW has long championed, a GI Bill for the 21st century.
Not only is Bush misleading the VFW about his support for the bill, but the VFW actually opposed a competing measure that Bush supported.
The Pentagon and the White House consistently resisted Sen. Jim Webb’s (D-VA) strong bipartisan effort to pass the bill. They warned of the “harm” Webb’s bill would do to the military and objected to its generous education benefits to returning veterans.
Moreover, the Bush administration wasn’t working very close with the VFW on the bill as Bush suggested. The VFW endorsed Webb’s proposal in June 2007, and continued to press for the bill this year, rejecting the White House’s concerns. In fact, the VFW said they “didn’t have much input” on the competing proposal Bush (and McCain) supported and called it “very partisan.”