Today, Claire McCaskill was joined by Springfield-area veterans at an event to highlight her record of delivering on our nation’s promises to servicemembers and military families, a record that stands in stark contrast with Todd Akin’s repeated votes to under-fund and undermine the benefits that veterans count on. At the event, Springfield veterans spoke about the importance of having a senator on their side, especially given the choice in this election between Claire’s record and that of Todd Akin.
“There’s nothing I do as Missouri’s Senator that’s more personal for me than working to ensure we always deliver for our veterans,” said McCaskill. “I was raised to believe that honoring the service of those in uniform is a sacred commitment, and I owe it to every Missourian who enlists that the benefits they earned will be there when they come home. While Todd Akin voted repeatedly to raise his own pay, he was also voting against our veterans. That record is troubling because it says something about Todd Akin’s priorities: his own bottom line is more important than taking care of those who serve our country.”
During his 12-year career in Congress, Todd Akin has voted four times to cut funding for veterans programs.
Akin has three times supported Republican budgets that proposed billions in cuts for key programs including TRICARE and retirement for service members under age 65, which would have resulted in funding set well below recommended levels for these key programs. Major national veterans groups spoke out strongly against the cuts Akin supported.
When the House was considering a major 2006 military funding bill, Akin voted for a procedural motion that allowed $507 million to be stripped from programs that improve the quality of life for retired service members.
As a Senator, Claire has successfully fought to increase funding for veterans programs by more than 57% since was elected to office. Owing in part to Claire’s efforts from day one, in 2008 the federal government fully funded the budget recommendations put forth annually by every major Veterans Service Organization, the first time this has ever happened.
Ensuring all veterans have proper access to the healthcare they need has been a top priority for Claire. As a daughter of rural Missouri, Claire has paid special attention to rural veterans who have to drive further for their treatment at VA hospitals. Claire fought to raise the mileage reimbursement rate for rural veterans, so that they are not being financially punished for receiving the health care they need.
Claire not only fought for access to VA hospitals, she has also fought for expanded access to mental health services and improved conditions at VA hospitals. As we continue to learn more about the impact of conditions like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Claire continues to fight for expanded access to mental health services.
2006: Akin Vote to Allow $507 Million to Be Stripped from Veterans Programs. In May 2006, Akin voted in favor of the rule governing debate of the Military Quality of Life and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill. The rule left $507 million worth of projects unprotected from points of order. Rep. Jeb Hensarling, a member of the ultra-conservative Republican Study Committee (RSC), lodged points of order against $507 million worth of projects in the bill, thus stripping them out of the legislation. The points of order were only allowed because the rule governing debate of the bill put forward by the GOP leadership did not protect the funds from points of order. The rule passed 216-187. [CQ Today, 5/19/06; Vote 174, 5/19/06]
Akin Supported Three Separate Republican Budgets That Cut Veterans Funding:
- 2006: Akin Supported Budget That Cut $6 Billion from Veterans Programs and Increased Fees. In May 2006, Akin voted in favor of a $2.8 trillion budget that cut key programs like education, health and veterans programs. The budget cut veterans’ healthcare beyond 2007. Despite an initial boost in veterans’ health spending, the Republican budget resolution actually cut funding for veterans’ appropriated programs by $6 billion below the level that CBO estimates is needed to maintain current services. Additionally, the Republican budget resolution included significant increases in TRICARE costs for military retirees under 65. In fact, healthcare fees will triple for retired officers, double for retired senior enlisted personnel, and increase by 40 percent for junior enlisted retirees. The budget passed 218-210. [House Budget Committee, Minority Staff Analysis of the FY 07 Budget; Vote 158, 5/18/06]
- 2005: Akin Supported Budget That Cut Veterans Programs by $13.5 Billion. In April 2005, Akin voted in favor of final passage of the $2.6 trillion budget conference report for 2006. The conference report cut funding for veterans’ health care by $13.5 billion over five years. The budget passed 214-211. [House Budget Committee Democratic Caucus, “Summary and Analysis of FY 2006 Budget Resolution Conference Report,” 4/28/05; Vote 149, 4/28/05]
2003: Akin Supported Budget That Cut $15 Billion from Veterans Programs and Increased Fees. In March 2003, Akin voted for a budget that called for cutting $15 billion from veterans’ benefits, including veterans’ pensions, compensation, education and other benefits, over 10 years. The Disabled Veterans of America strongly opposed the budget, sending a letter to all members of Congress “to communicate our deep-seated outrage regarding the fiscal year 2004 budget adopted by the House Budget Committee, which would cut veterans programs by more than $15 billion during the next 10 years.” The GOP budget also included the President’s proposal to impose a $250 fee for enrollment in VA health care for category 7 and 8 veterans, along with a doubling of the drug co-payment for those veterans. The budget passed 215-212. [Letter from Edward R. Heath, National Commander, Disabled Veterans of America, 3/17/03; Vote 82, 3/21/03]
2004: Akin Supported Budget That Under-Funded Veterans Programs and Was Strongly Opposed by Veterans’ Groups. In 2004, Akin voted in favor of a the fiscal year 2005 budget resolution that cut funding for veterans programs and was strongly opposed by major veterans’ organizations. A coalition of veterans groups, including the AMVETS, Disabled American Veterans, Paralyzed Veterans of America, and Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States was vehemently opposed to the bill. “Passage of the budget resolution, as presented, would be a disservice to those men and women who have served this country and who are currently serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world in our fight against terrorism,” the groups said. The budget resolution passed 215-212. [Letter to Members, 3/23/04; Vote 92, 3/20/04]
2001: Akin Opposed Full Funding for Veterans Benefits. In 2001, Akin voted against a motion to recommit the VA-HUD appropriations bill to the House Appropriations Committee with instructions to add language to increase funding for VA medical care programs by an amount adequate to fully fund the cost of all currently authorized services, including those under the Veterans Millennium Health Care Act (PL 106-117). The motion was defeated, 196-230. [Vote 296, 7/30/01]