The American Legion on Wednesday slammed a move by some Senate Republicans to use veterans legislation backed by Democrats to get a new package of Iran sanctions through the chamber.
In the opening hours of debate on a bill that will extend health care to more veterans, Republican Sens. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire urged Senate Leader Harry Reid to allow a vote on the sanctions amendment.
An Ayotte spokeswoman said the senator is asking for a vote on the bill that would be offered as an amendment to the veterans' health care and education bill introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who chairs the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.
Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., ranking member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, has an alternative veterans' bill ready to go that includes the sanctions language, according to Bloomberg News.
American Legion National Commander Daniel Dellinger issued a statement saying the sanctions issue has no business being inserted into the debate over veterans' legislation and will only harm its passage.
"Iran is a serious issue that Congress needs to address, but it cannot be tied to S. 1982, which is extremely important as our nation prepares to welcome millions of U.S. military servicemen and women home from war," Dellinger said. "This legislation is about supporting veterans, pure and simple."
The Senate is expected to vote on the bill this week.
During his own remarks on the proposed law on Wednesday, Burr continued to argue that the bill, estimated to cost about $21 billion, will only increase the burden on a Department of Veterans Affairs that is failing in a number of areas.
Burr has been particularly opposed to expanding VA health care to veterans who do not have a service-connected disability. He said this will open up the VA, which is already having difficulty meeting the needs of its current patient load, to hundreds of thousands more patients.
Sanders, during his floor comments, said the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America also said they did not want the Iran sanctions included in the veterans' legislation.
Ayotte called for a vote on the Iran sanctions legislation, saying Iran has a nuclear weapons program that poses "a grave threat to the United State of America, a grave threat to the world and a grave threat to our friend and our ally, the state of Israel."
Obama believes that the Iran sanctions bill will be counterproductive to resolving the long time dispute over Iran's nuclear program and finally ensuring that it is a peaceful one.
The bill, which does have some Democrat support, is viewed by some critics as a "poison pill" intended to throw off the talks.
The government of Israel has been adamant from the beginning that Iran would never honor any agreement and it also insists that Iran give up any ability to enrich uranium.
-- Bryant Jordan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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