WASHINGTON — Sen. Tom Coburn continued Monday to block a bill providing new health care services for veterans, despite strong backing of the bill from veterans two days before the national holiday in their honor.
Coburn, who is single-handedly preventing the bill from passing the Senate, said Monday that the bill would add an estimated $3.7 billion to the deficit over five years and that lawmakers had made no effort to find corresponding cuts in other programs. Moreover, he said, the bill’s assistance for caregivers for disabled vets only applies to veterans from the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Sen. Richard Durbin, an Illinois Democrat and the assistant majority leader, said Coburn was hurting 6,800 families who have a disabled veteran living at home and need help caring for him or her. But Coburn said he has offered a number of programs that could be cut to help pay for the new benefits — including subsidies to cotton producers who store their crops under a federal loan program and subsidies to air carriers who provide service to some small communities. Coburn said veterans had shown great courage in their jobs defending the country and that lawmakers should show courage in their jobs by cutting some old programs to pay for new ones, rather than passing the debt on to future generations. Know It: Military