Democratic aides who support the supplemental as written said they were surprised Blue Dogs decided to suddenly pick veterans benefits as the issue to make their stand, especially since so many of them have large numbers of veterans in their districts or are veterans themselves.
They suggested that either Blue Dogs will have to compromise, such as exacting a promise to pay for the program in the near future, or find an offset that can pass both chambers, or that the GI bill will have to be pulled from the bill, which would disappoint a key constituency and embarrass leadership.
But Blue Dogs complained that leadership hadn’t properly vetted the proposal.
“We were blindsided by this,” Cooper said.
And Rep. Tim Mahoney (D-Fla.) said Democratic leaders and Blue Dogs need to have a dialogue about how to pay for the GI bill, and not how to get around the PAYGO rule. “GIs deserve to be treated better, but we should pay for it. We can do both.”
An aide to a Blue Dog said leadership made the mistake of taking them for granted.
“It all just reeks of political pandering,” the aide said.