I have great respect for those who have risked their lives and fought for our country. Our veterans deserve the absolute best.
That’s why I was shocked to find out that the Ryan-Murray Budget–that incumbent Congresswoman Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL) voted for last month–slashed veterans benefits by more than $6 billion.
Congresswoman Bustos recently told a Galesburg, Ill. radio station that she knew the veterans cuts were included in the budget, but she voted for it anyway.
And even worse, once the news media picked up on the veterans cuts, Bustos did nothing to try and rectify the situation. She just pretended it never happened. Three weeks later, she finally came out and co-sponsored a bill to restore the cuts, but the bill is extremely partisan and has less than a 1 percent chance of being passed, according to GovTrack.us.
Bustos seems to think that as long as she sends out a couple press releases and says a couple nice things about veterans, she’ll provide herself enough political cover to be okay. And maybe politically that’s true–but that does nothing for the thousands of veterans in her district who are facing $6 billion in cuts to their benefits.
Bustos is hoping that this is something veterans and voters will quickly forget. She’s even trying to rewrite history–on January 10 on the House floor she insisted that she would “continue to oppose proposals that aim to balance the budget on the backs” of veterans, less than a month after she voted for the Ryan-Murray budget that does exactly that!
We should be cutting our debts, not our vets.
As a Member of Congress, I worked hard on veterans issues. In just two years, we tackled more than 2,000 veterans cases in our district office. On the legislative side, I teamed up with Congressman Aaron Schock (R-Peoria) to successfully pass an amendment to expand the Project HERO and Project ARCH programs, which give veterans better access to quality health care. I expanded on this work by introducing the Enhanced Veterans Health Care Experience Act, a bill that would give veterans the option to avoid painfully long travel times to VA hospitals by allowing them to use their own doctors in their own home towns.
Working on behalf of our veterans is one of the most important responsibilities of a Member of Congress, and I took that job very seriously.
So I have to question Congresswoman Cheri Bustos on this one. Why did she vote for the Ryan-Murray Budget that slashed veterans benefits in the first place? Why hasn’t she reached across the aisle and put together passable legislation to restore the $6 billion? Why won’t Cheri Bustos stand up for the brave men and women who once stood up for this great nation?
Congresswoman Bustos made headlines on Monday for being a pretty good fundraiser, especially from special interest lobbyists in Washington, D.C. She managed to pull in more than $1 million in 2013.
But it’s hard to imagine that Cheri Bustos raising a million bucks for her campaign coffers is going to provide much consolation to the thousands of veterans in her district facing these dramatic cuts to their benefits.
That’s not leadership. That’s not service. And our veterans deserve better.