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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Issue of the Week: Ron Johnson’s Bad Vote for Veterans

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In the past few weeks, we’ve heard horror stories about the impact of the underfunding of Veterans Affairs hospitals around the country. It seems that the system can’t handle the numbers of our aging vets and our new generation of vets who need access to the high-quality health care that the VA system typically provides.

So bipartisan legislation was created: allow vets to use private hospitals if they can’t get in to VA facilities. The bill also amped up funding to hire additional medical professionals.

It seems like a no-brainer. The bill, authored by conservative Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and liberal Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), was so uncontroversial that just three senators voted against it.

You guessed it. One of the three holdouts was Wisconsin’s embarrassing Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson.

In an official statement, Johnson said that he preferred a competing bill that he authored that would reform the VA system.

We should be grateful that the Senate hasn’t taken up Johnson’s tea party version of “reform.” Johnson is one of the most ideological members of Congress, one who is wasting his time fighting a provision in Obamacare that allows the federal government to pay for some of the health care coverage for some lawmakers and congressional staffers. The provision treats the federal government like a private employer that covers some of its employees’ health benefits. Even conservative U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner thinks Johnson’s federal lawsuit is nuts. But it allows Johnson to try once again to become the voice of the tea party on Capitol Hill.

Johnson’s opposition to the bipartisan attempt to provide health care for veterans is yet another shameful example of his pattern of putting his tea party ideology above the well-being of his constituents. We hope that veterans and their loved ones realize who is not looking out for them in Washington—Ron Johnson.