By now you've all read the news that the Veterans Job Corp bill failed to pass the US Senate yesterday by only two votes. You've probably also heard that this was a surprise, as it was purposely crafted to be bi-partisan and non-political, with input from Republicans as well as Democrats.
Whether the Republican change of heart was due, as they claim, to the bill's costs, or whether, as many believe, it was because they felt putting anybody to work (veteran or not) just before the election would help President Obama's re-election efforts, is not the point of this post.
While every other liberal bloggers is shaming the Republicans who contributed to the bill, only to vote against it, I'd like to take a few moments to thank the five Republican Senators who actually voted their conscience, and chose to help our veterans, and our country, and put policy above politics for at least this one issue.
They are: Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, each of Maine, Dean Heller of Nevada, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.
Of course, some might say, it's easy to be brave if you're not running for re-election this year. Olympia Snowe is retiring from her Senate seat, so this may be one of her last votes ever, but she has many times demonstrated her independence from the Republican leadership. In fact, her frustration with the current Republican mind-set of destroying Obama before fixing America may be part of her decision to not seek re-election. I would like to thank Senator Snowe for her service to our country.
Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins are each in safe seats this year, so this vote may or may not come back to haunt them later. Even so, there are many more Republican Senators in safe seats (Senators face re-election every six years), why are there only two willing to vote for jobs for veterans? Safe or not, it takes courage to cross party lines these days.
Scott Brown and Dean Heller are each facing re-election this year, which makes their votes even more important. Brown is running in traditionally liberal Massachusetts against the nationally known (and funded) Elizabeth Warren. Some might dismiss this move as just playing to local biases, but considering that when Brown first entered the Senate (filling Ted Kennedy's old seat) it was feared he'd be the furthest right tea-bagger of them all, he still deserves to be thanked for this vote.
I know less about Heller, other than that he's a recent appointee now running for the first time to continue in the Senate. For a "new guy," who probably needs the help of the National RNC in his election, to buck the tide and go against the party is, to me, a positive sign of independence.
Okay, enough positivity and praising of Republicans. I will use this one paragraph to point out those who voted against this bill. Or, rather, one Republican Senator in particular. I find it dishonorable and disgusting (but not surprising) that "the mother of all mavericks," John McCain, is not on this list of those who put veterans above party. Shame on you, Senator McCain.