Washington, DC - While John McCain was campaigning and raising money in California today, the Senate voted on a bipartisan to bill to support our brave men and women in uniform by helping them pay for college when they complete their service. Unlike both Democratic presidential candidates, who took time off the campaign trail to support our troops by voting for the 21st Century GI Bill, Senator McCain refused.
Senator McCain might not have voted, but he has made his views perfectly clear. Instead of joining the 75 senators from both parties who voted for the bill and just about every major veterans group--all of which supported it--Senator McCain chose to echo the Bush Administration's opposition. Senator McCain claimed the bill would provide too much incentive for the brave men and women who volunteered to serve after 9/11 to leave the armed forces, even though a Congressional Budget Office study found that the bill's impact on retention would be offset by a matching increase in recruitment. Senator McCain offered a watered down version of the bill that would have offered a reduced benefit and required many veterans to pay out of their own pockets to receive it.
Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean issued the following statement on John McCain's refusal to support our veterans and military families:
"America's veterans and military families deserve better than a candidate who is willing to keep our troops in Iraq for 100 years, but refuses to take care of them when they come home. The men and women in who volunteer to put on the uniform of the United States of America risk their lives to defend our freedoms, and we should do everything we can to help them be successful when they come home. While Senator McCain talks about supporting our troops and veterans on the campaign trail, his real record tells a much different story. While we honor his service to our country, Senator McCain's double talk on veterans' benefits is one more reason he is the wrong choice for America's future."
McCain Gets Score of 30 Percent On Veterans Issues. According to Time, "This is not the first time McCain, who has a proud history of opposing what he views as excessive government spending, has found himself at odds with his fellow veterans on legislation. He's voted for veterans funding bills only 30% of the time, according to a scorecard of roll-call votes put out by the nonpartisan Disabled Americans for America." [time.com; 5/20/08]
McCain Refused To Support Bipartisan Legislation To Reform GI Bill. "On his campaign plane this afternoon, McCain said he and allies in the Senate are working on an alternative to the bill, but would only support something that included incentives to stay in the military. 'We are working on proposals of our own. I'm a consistent supporter of educational benefits for the men and women of the military,' McCain said. 'I want to make sure that we have incentives for people to remain in the military as well as for people to join the military.'" [ABC News, 4/14/2008]
McCain's Proposal Would Only Cover The Average Cost Of Tuition, Room, And Board, Leaving Some Vets Without Adequate Funding. "For active-duty members, monthly GI Bill benefits would rise Oct. 1 to $1,500, up from the current $1,101, enough to cover the average cost of a four-year public college including room, board, tuition and fees, said Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services personnel subcommittee." [Army Times, 4/22/08]
McCain Admits His Plan Is Designed To Keep Troops Serving Longer. "My proposal and others, Senator Graham, Senator Burn, is we'll place incentives for people to stay in the military." When O'Reilly said, "So the longer you stay, the more you get" McCain responded, "Yes, the more you get, because we want people to stay in. We have to increase the benefits for the men and women who are serving and motivate those to serve." [Fox News Transcript, "The O'Reilly Factor," 5/8/08]
McCain Said He Wanted To Give Greatest Benefits To Those Who Serve Longest. "What I want to of course reward the person stays in the military longer with greater incentives to stay in as opposed to someone who only staying a few years because I also want Americans to serve but I also want dedicated Americans to serve as long as possible." McCain also spoke about "incentivizing talented professional men and women to remain in the military and make it a career." [CNN Live Feed, Town Hall (Rochester, MN), 5/7/08]