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Screenshot of final vote on Veterans health care vote in Senate. 6/11/2014
Sen. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III reprised his role as Republican spoiler on veterans' health care. Remember, Sessions' problem with the last VA funding bill was the "funding" part—he just didn't want to spend more money on these people who sacrificed just about everything to serve their country. This time around he failed, and the bill he was trying to block, the McCain-Sanders bill passed 93-23.* It would provide emergency funding to shore up the VA medical system.
The bill, crafted by Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), gives the VA secretary more flexibility to fire those involved in misconduct, authorizes construction of more than 20 VA medical facilities and uses $500 million to hire more doctors and nurses. It would establish a two-year program to allow veterans living more than 40 miles from a VA hospital to see the doctor of their choice.

The bill also includes measures allowing in-state tuition for all veterans at public colleges and improving medical care for military sexual assault victims. Surviving spouses of former service members would also be eligible for more VA education benefits.

Sessions, joined by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), forced a procedural vote, a budget point of order against the bill, because it is designated as emergency spending and is thus not fully paid for with offsets from other parts of the budget. Because this huge, huge scandal of the Obama administration that they say is killing veterans every day while they wait for an appointment isn't an emergency and shouldn't be fixed as quickly as possible.

The point of order fell, 75-19, but those voting with Sessions and Coburn included Jeff Flake (R-AZ), who has spent no small amount of time and energy railing against the VA and the scandal that was first uncovered in his home state. Only Sessions and Johnson (WI) stuck to their plan to keeping on screwing veterans and voted against final passage.

Just remember these 19 Republicans, and particularly the 17 16 vote-switchers who were against taking care of our veterans before they were for it, the next time you hear a Republican bashing the Obama administration over the VA.

*Note: This is not the final, final vote count. The vote has been held open for an hour and a half as stragglers are awaited. [Update]: The straggler was Sen. Lindsey Graham, who voted "aye." So in the interim, someone changed their vote.

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