Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is giving endangered Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, a legislative gift ahead of next week's election.
Reid sent Begich a letter dated Oct. 28 saying he plans to hold a vote in the lame duck on a Begich bill funding veterans programs.
“As I plan our Senate agenda for November, I recall our conversations about veterans and your advocacy for their rights,” Reid said in a short Oct. 28 letter to Begich. “With Veterans Day approaching, I have decided that your bipartisan bill…will be taken up by the Senate for vote. It is indeed the right thing for our nation’s veterans.”
“Your have been a tireless advocate for Alaskas’s 73,000 veterans and veterans throughout the country,” Reid continued. “Your important bill will go a long way to ensuring secure funding for America’s veterans.”
The letter comes as Begich is in a difficult race to retain his seat to represent a GOP-leaning state and in the second midterm of an unpopular Democratic president. The Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call rates the race against Republican Dan Sullivan as a Tossup/Tilts Republican.
In an editorial in Roll Call Oct. 1 — the anniversary of the last government shutdown — Begich argued that the bill would shield veterans from the politics that arise in the appropriations process and any potential future shutdowns, by funding veterans’ need in advance. “The result would be no disruptions in services for veterans in the event of any future government shutdown and no danger of cutting off veterans’ checks,” Begich said. “No one in their right mind wants a repeat of that dark period — and the Putting Veterans Funding First Act would prevent it.”
“Even in years when the government has stayed open, partisan paralysis has meant that VA appropriations have failed to pass on time in 24 of the past 26 fiscal years,” Begich said. “Sometimes, the delays have stretched out for months; over the past four years, on average, the VA had to go 116 days after the start of the fiscal year before it knew how much money it had to spend for the full year.”
The bill has nine co-sponsors, including five Republicans.
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