Senate Republicans effectively killed a measure to find jobs for unemployed veterans on a procedural vote Wednesday, after several attempts by Democrats to keep the bill on the table failed.
Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., raised a point of order against the bill on Wednesday, citing alleged violations of Senate budget rules. Since three-fifths of the chamber did not vote to waive the rules, the legislation cannot move forward.
The point of order was the latest in a string of obstacles designed to derail the bill, which would have created the Veterans Jobs Corps by setting aside $1 billion in federal grants to give veterans priority for jobs that might require military skills, such as in law enforcement or fire safety. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., briefly filibustered the legislation last week in an unrelated attempt to withdraw aid to Pakistan.
The Senate vote was 58 - 40, with 60 votes needed to allow the measure to move forward.
Every Democrat in the Senate voted for the measure, every vote against the measure was cast by a Republican. Five Republicans did cross over to vote in support of veterans -
- Scott Brown of Massachusetts, who is locked in a tough battle with Elizabeth Warren for the Senate seat there.
- Susan Collins of Maine, who isn't up for reelection this year, but is known as one of the better human beings in the R caucus in the Senate.
- Olympia Snowe of Maine, who would be up for reelection this year, except she is retiring. Also known as one of the better human beings in the R caucus.
- Dean Heller of Nevada, who is in a fierce race against Shelley Berkley in his quest for a full term in the Senate. So fierce, in fact, that Heller is now trying to distance himself from Mitt Romney, who is beginning to act as a drag on the rest of the R ticket.
- Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. Since the tea party types in her party turned on her and she was able to beat them back, as a write-in candidate of all things, she will occasionally vote for the best interests of her constituents and for America, and this was one of those occasions.
However, two of the Republicans who voted against veterans and for petty partisanship -
Arizona's own Jon Kyl and John McCain.
Kyl's vote is not a surprise; he's part of the leadership of the R caucus in the US Senate and his primary guiding principle seems to be "if it doesn't help me or mine (industry lobbyists and other Republicans), then it doesn't pass." He (and they) view anything to help veterans as something that would help President Obama, especially since Obama strongly supported the veterans' job corps. And they oppose *everything* that could even remotely be seen as helping the president.
McCain's vote is more than a bit of a surprise. He's a veteran himself (in case you missed the eight zillion or so campaign ads, mailers, and talking points mentioning that fact when he ran for president in 2008) and recently has been showing signs that the "maverick" McCain was returning, the McCain who once looked like he was made of presidential timbre.
In short, the McCain with actual principles is long gone and "ain't comin' back".
And now the Senate has one more vote this week, making all of *three* this week, before heading home until after the November elections.
It seems that membership in the Republican-controlled Congress, both House and Senate, has become the next best thing to "no show jobs", so it's kind of appropos that the Congress is also the "no jobs show".
And before someone complains that the Democrats are the majority party in the Senate, the Senate rules allow for the minority party to obstruct the process at every turn, and the Republicans have enthusiastically, even ruthlessly, taken advantage of those rules. They may not be in the majority in the Senate, but they are in control in the Senate.
BTW - did anyone else notice that the five Rs who supported the measure are women or are being challenged by women this year? Not sure what it means, or if it even means anything at all, but it sure is interesting...