The most peeved, however, was Sanders. He hastily organized a press conference with fellow Senate Democrats in which he rapped Miller for demanding a vote on a proposal that, according to an aide, did not adhere to the outlines of earlier discussions.Well no, having an unofficial "conference committee" meeting consisting entirely of House members and then telling the Senate that their new plan is what you'll be having a vote on is not quite how the process usually goes, but it certainly underscores the House's insistence that it's either their way or the (badly underfunded) highway.
“You cannot talk about negotiating, you cannot talk about a conference committee, when somebody is asking you to join you ... for a formal vote on ‘this’ proposal,” said Sanders.
For their part, the House seems conspicuously unconcerned. Follow me below the fold for more.
Recall that efforts to reform the Veterans Administration have been declared to be of utmost importance—a month ago, the department was reeling from scandal and politicians of both houses and parties were demanding heads. But that was then, and now the dire need that was obvious then has already run up against the inability of the House to feign interest even when faced with dire needs. Where's House Speaker John Boehner in all this? Being John Boehner:
Asked about the bill at a press conference yesterday, Boehner told reporters, “We’ve got a systemic failure of an entire department of our government. And I think understanding just how sick this patient is is critically important, before we start doing what Washington usually does, and that’s just throw money at the problem, throw money at the problem.”You could copy and paste much of that paragraph into almost any other debate in Congress right now and it'd be just as accurate. There's a need; the need is critical; the need requires the House to do something; the House makes a big noise about doing something only to scuttle it after an initial publicity binge as their members revolt against voting to spend actual money on the effort; John Boehner gets up and defends the botched effort under a new theory that the critical national need does not need money, it just needs a stern talking to.
This suggests the Speaker doesn’t understand the basics of the debate. The bipartisan veterans-aid package doesn’t “just throw money at the problem.” It expands VA health care access, tuition assistance, and job training to veterans – just as the House bill does.
The reason the bill is dying has nothing to do with understanding “just how sick” the VA is and everything to do with a disagreement about finances. The fact that Boehner doesn’t know this suggests the veterans-aid bill just isn’t a high priority for him.
Think back just a month ago; the VA was in scandal, the way our veterans were being treated upon coming home from the wars the Congress clamored for was widely considered a disgrace, and all of Washington was aflutter with the demands that something be done. It was enough to do the impossible—speedily pass a bill in both houses to fund repairs and reforms.
And now? Meh. If the House can't do it their way, it's not worth doing.