Every Sunday the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel runs the feature: Congress Following the Vote. For those of you who haven’t seen it, the MJS runs a short explanation of the major legislation in Washington from the previous week with a short synopsis of the bill and the voting record of Wisconsin’s House and Senate delegations. Since January 2009 most of the vote has fallen along party lines so the most interesting bills are those where individuals cross the lines in support of a particular item.
The Sunday August 1, 2010 edition of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel featured eight bills that were voted on in the House. I am going to point out two particular bills from the article that are related although controlling different aspects of our national defense.
The first bill is HR 4899. This bill appropriates an additional $32.8 billion for this year to support US combat operations in Afghanistan including the ‘surge’ of 30,000 additional troops. A yes vote supported the appropriation and the bill carried by a vote of 308 – 114. The Wisconsin House delegation voted along nearly party lines with the Republicans including Rep. Ryan and Rep. Sensenbrenner plus Democratic Rep. Kind voting in favor. The other Democrats voted against the bill.
The second bill is HR 5822. This bill appropriated $120.8 billion for mandatory and discretionary spending for 2011 by the Department of Veterans Administration. The main focus of the bill funds medical care for 6.1 million patients and additional claims processors. A yes vote supports the bill and it was approved 411 – 6. Every single member of Wisconsin’s House delegation voted in support of our veterans except Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner. This obviously wasn’t a heinously partisan bill because every House member in attendance voted for it except for six curmudgeons. It’s an important part of our national fabric to support and help those fine men and women who protect our nation. It’s what we expect to do. It’s what we expect our representatives to do. Yet Rep. Sensenbrenner voted against it…just one of six Congressmen in the whole nation who are so cold hearted that they weren’t willing to support our veterans.
The MJS also ran a recent article detailing that rural areas bear a greater brunt of casualties from the Iraq war. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect that war related injuries are also experienced more often by troops from rural areas. Nor would I expect different results from the Afghan war. I couldn’t find the article on the MJS site, but here is the original release from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.
So we are fighting a war with citizen volunteer armed forces. And since much of the Wisconsin Fifth Congressional district is still rural or suburban, it’s a good possibility that Rep. Sensenbrenner’s constituents are taking a bigger brunt of injuries or casualties in our current wars. Yet Rep. Sensenbrenner has no problem funding the continuation and expansion of the Afghan war but in return doesn’t want to support our returning veterans? Rep. Sensenbrenner doesn’t see it is in the best interest of the nation, the state, or even his own home district to support our local veterans? Rep. Sensenbrenner is one of only six Congressmen who voted to not support our veterans? Does Rep. Sensenbrenner think he’s being a maverick with this vote? Sometimes acting the maverick isn’t being a maverick, it’s being a cold hearted entrenched politician.