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Senate GOP backtracks after veterans bill firestorm

Minority Chief Mitch McConnell declined to reply to a query Monday about why the laws was held up.

“It would go this week,” he mentioned.

Different Republicans in Senate management struck an analogous tone. Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) advised POLITICO he would “anticipate it to go” and Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), McConnell’s No. 2, echoed that at “some level that is going to go and it’ll go massive.”

Republicans say they blocked the invoice due to considerations spearheaded by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) over what the retiring senator known as a “budgetary gimmick” — language that he argued may permit sure funds for use for applications unrelated to veterans’ well being care. That language was within the invoice when it initially handed the Senate in an 84-14 vote, earlier than a technical snag pressured the chamber to vote on it once more.

“These items bought drug out, however bear in mind why it bought drug out. Once they handed it over right here the primary time, they did it fallacious,“ Thune mentioned, including it was Democrats who “screwed up the primary time.”

Schumer is predicted to drive one other vote on the veterans invoice this week, vowing Monday that he would convey it up “within the coming days.”

“We’re going to provide Senate Republicans one other likelihood to do the precise factor,” he mentioned.

The New York Democrat will probably give Republicans an off-ramp by granting Toomey a vote on his proposed modification, which the Pennsylvania Republican and plenty of of his colleagues say he’s been requesting for months.

“The ball is within the courtroom of the chief and I’ve not heard what he’s determined to do … we now have not been advised that we now have an modification vote scheduled. Hopefully, that shall be forthcoming,” Toomey mentioned Monday.

The modification clarification has executed little to curb Democratic prices that the GOP turned a non-controversial plan to assist veterans uncovered to Agent Orange and poisonous burn pits right into a political soccer. Democrats have questioned the turnabout sharply on condition that 25 Republicans voted to dam the invoice over the budgetary challenge solely on its second journey to the ground, not its first.

“I’m doing every thing I can do,” mentioned Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.). “I don’t know [if] folks actually perceive what they had been voting on, to be sincere with you. There’s no slush fund on this.”

Importantly, even when Toomey will get a vote, his modification isn’t anticipated to have sufficient assist to finally get included — leaving Republicans with the identical veterans invoice most of them voted to dam final week. And a few are nonetheless saying they’re not prepared to kill the laws over the modification push.

“If I get an opportunity to vote for an modification I would vote for the modification, however I need to be sure the invoice doesn’t get killed,” mentioned Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who added he usually agreed with Toomey’s concern. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) equally mentioned he broadly supported the modification.

Nonetheless, Toomey has tried to rally his colleagues behind holding up the veterans invoice in personal convention conferences; Republicans argue that Democrats promised an modification vote on his considerations again in June, solely to renege.

These disputes largely flew beneath the radar till final week, when the invoice crashed on the ground. Veterans advocates teams had flown into Washington anticipating to rejoice ultimate passage — as an alternative, it grew to become a press convention to rail towards the GOP senators who held it up.

“As somebody who has labored on this invoice for years, I’m simply dissatisfied that a few of my Republican colleagues, whether or not out of non-public pique or some misguided political motive … wished to flip-flop. However so long as it involves the precise outcome, that’s what’s vital for the nation and for veterans,” mentioned Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.).

The criticism hasn’t let up this week.

Comic Jon Stewart — rallying alongside veterans who’ve been camped exterior the Senate for days — on Monday slammed Republicans for slowing the invoice’s passage.

“I’m not petrified of you and I don’t care, as a result of these are the folks I owe a debt of gratitude to,” Stewart mentioned. “Don’t depart right here tonight till you do the precise factor by these of us. Easy as that: Don’t make this more durable than it’s.”

Katherine Tully-McManus contributed to this report.

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