What: All Issues : Health Care : Veterans and Active Military Personnel : A vote on a Democratic procedural motion to waive Senate budget rules preventing consideration of a Democratic amendment to the fiscal year 2005 Defense Authorization Act (S. 2400) to increase veterans' health care benefits.
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A vote on a Democratic procedural motion to waive Senate budget rules preventing consideration of a Democratic amendment to the fiscal year 2005 Defense Authorization Act (S. 2400) to increase veterans' health care benefits.
senate Roll Call 145     Jun 23, 2004
Y = Conservative
N = Progressive
Winning Side:
Conservative

Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D) was barred from being able to offer an amendment to the fiscal year 2005 Defense Authorization Act (S. 2400) because Senate Budget Chairman Don Nickles (R-Okla.) was successful in a procedural challenge, in which he stated that Daschle's amendment to increase veterans' health care benefits would raise government spending without identifying an offsetting government spending cuts - something not permitted under Senate rules when the chamber is debating legislation unrelated to the budget or appropriations. As such, Nickles raised a "point of order" or a procedural red flag against Daschle's amendment, which Daschle then sought to overcome. However, a three-fifths majority (60) of the total Senate is required to waive (set aside) the Budget Act, and Daschle's motion garnered the support of just 49 senators. As such, Daschle's amendment fell, killing Democrats' opportunity to bring the issue of faltering healthcare for veterans up for substantive debate and a vote. Progressives backed the substance of Daschle's amendment, on the grounds that veterans' health care benefits are not keeping pace with needs, with 500,000 veterans being unable to enroll at the Veterans Administration. Progressives also noted that veterans' out of pocket contributions for health care costs topping more than $1 billion -- an especially unfair situation, progressives argued, given that there are men and women returning from active duty in Iraq and Afghanistan who will not be assured access to health care when they return. However, conservatives countered that the Daschle amendment would create a new entitlement program, with its $300 billion cost over ten years adding to the deficit. Nickles raised his point of order on the grounds that Daschle's amendment would increases spending and, if adopted, would cause the underlying Defense spending bill to exceed the committee's allocation restraints. Said Nickles, "This kind of amendment belongs on the budget, not on a DOD authorization bill. This is really amending the budget."

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