Modern Day GI Bill Passes in the House
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Although the fight that matters will be in the Senate, the House passed the bill to modernize the GI Bill today, HR 2642, 256-166. Those numbers are pretty overwhelming and the reflect the fact that 32 Republicans crossed the aisle to vote against Bush and their own reactionary leadership and for our military vets. At the same time, the Blue Dog caucus was unable to muster it's own members to bolster their Republican allies. Only 7 of the sleaziest and most Bush-oriented Democrats voted against vets today:
Melissa Bean (IL)
Dan Boren (OK)
Joe Donnelly (IN)
Brad Ellsworth (IN)
Nick Lampson (TX)
Tim Mahoney (FL)
Jim Matheson (UT)
Our newest conservative Democrats, Don Cazayoux (LA) and Bill Foster (IL) both voted with the Democrats on this crucial bill, Foster even stepping away from Bean's apron strings. This bill will allow vets who fought in Afghanistan and Iraq to go to college-- just what it was intended to do. McCain and McConnell have vowed to kill the bill in the Senate.
I took a look at the Blue America House races to see how the Republican opponents of our candidates-- all of whom support the bill-- voted Most of them voted against vets, as they usually do. Joining the dead-end minority today were Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Tim Walberg (R-MI), Scott Garrett (R-NJ), David Dreier (R-CA), Ric Keller (R-FL), Randy Kuhl (R-NY), Michael McCaul (R-TX), Gary Miller (R-CA), Mike Pence (R-IN), Dave Reichert (R-WA), Dana Rohrabacher (R-OH), and Mean Jean Schmidt (R-OH). Heather Wilson (R-NM) is running for Senate and she stuck with Bush, as she usually does. John Doolittle (R-CA) is retiring under a cloud of corruption charges and he also stuck with Bush.
Interestingly, some of the tightest and most competitive races we're following saw die-hard reactionaries abandoning Bush, not because they wanted to or because they suddenly want to help vets, but because they are scared to death that they're about to lose their cushy jobs. John Barrow, a Georgia Blue Dog who almost always supports Bush on these matters is so frightened of the surging state Senator from Savannah, Regina Thomas, that he actually abandoned his usual stance and voted, reluctantly, with the Democrats. Same story in Iowa, where Leonard Boswell's fear of Ed Fallon voters caused him to vote like a Democrat for a change. Republicans Robin Hayes, Chris Shays and Charlie Dent are so worried about the likelihood that they will be defeated by, respectively, Larry Kissell, Jim Himes and Sam Bennett that each switched positions and voted with the Democrats today.