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July 30, 2014

Posts in "John McCain"

July 23, 2014

Bob Dole, Veterans Groups Push Disabilities Treaty

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Former Senate Majority Leader Dole, R-Kan., speaks with Sen. Ayotte, R-N.H., after a news conference urging the Senate to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Despite remaining short of the 67 votes needed to ratify the United Nation’s disability treaty, disabled veterans groups are pushing for a vote to identify the holdouts.

Former Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan., at a press conference urging ratification, said the treaty is a no-brainer to help veterans.

“I just hope the Republicans will take another look and support this treaty,” Dole said.

“This is a common sense thing … so … the people in wheelchairs can have the same rights when they travel overseas as able-bodied persons.” Full story

By Humberto Sanchez Posted at 2:33 p.m.
John McCain

July 18, 2014

McCain: United States ‘Also Responsible’ for Circumstances Leading to MH17 Crash in Ukraine (Audio)

mccain 028 090413 445x303 McCain: United States Also Responsible for Circumstances Leading to MH17 Crash in Ukraine (Audio)

McCain (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. John McCain said Friday that the tragic shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 might never have happened if the United States had armed Ukrainian forces battling against Russian-backed separatists.

The Arizona Republican also said there’s no reason to wait for an international investigation of the site of the crash in eastern Ukraine.

McCain pinned the blame on Russian President Vladimir Putin, but said the U.S. does have some responsibility for not arming the Ukrainians in their fight against separatists and other Russian elements.

Full story

July 9, 2014

CBO Score Continues to Vex Veterans Bill Talks

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Sanders (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The sky-high CBO score for a veterans’ health care overhaul continues to stall progress weeks after separate bills blitzed through the House and Senate.

“That’s really a big problem and we know they are not legitimate,” said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a member of the conference committee, said of the CBO estimates.

Last month the CBO estimated the cost of a bill passed by the Senate to be $50 billion a year, mostly because the bill would allow veterans to seek care from private health care providers if the have an unreasonable wait time or live more than 40 miles, a provision that would last two years. Full story

July 7, 2014

McCain: Cut Aid to Countries Fueling Immigration Crisis

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McCain wants to cut aid to countries fueling the immigration crisis. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A GOP architect of the Senate’s immigration plan is calling for at least threatening to cut aid to Central American countries that don’t take steps to stop the flow of unaccompanied migrant children to the United States.

“We should tell these countries in Central America that no more aid, no more assistance, no nothing until they stop this from happening,” Arizona Sen. John McCain told KFYI radio in Phoenix.

Full story

June 24, 2014

VA Conference Committee Hopes for Quick Deal Despite High Price Tag

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House and Senate negotiators hope for a quick deal to fix the Department of Veterans Affairs although they have yet to resolve whether to offset a potentially enormous pricetag or add to the deficit.

More than two dozen members of the House and Senate met in a rare conference committee Tuesday to begin resolving each chambers’ proposals to address the VA health care scandal.

It was the first time in 15 years that members met in a joint committee regarding VA legislation, which Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said “shows how severe the problems facing the VA are and how serious members are about fixing them.” Full story

June 11, 2014

Senate Passes Emergency VA Bill at Warp Speed

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Senate had a rare burst of productivity Wednesday, passing a bipartisan bill aimed at tackling the VA health care scandal at warp speed.

The Senate backed the compromise Veterans Affairs package, 93-3, sending it to the House after leaders in both parties responded to the national outcry over tens of thousands of veterans stuck waiting months for health care.

Senate Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., led negotiations on the bipartisan agreement to get veterans access to outside medical providers and provide emergency funds for doctors, nurse and facilities with Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

Full story

June 4, 2014

Senators Again Push FCC to End NFL Blackouts

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Blumenthal wants the FCC to end NFL blackouts. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Two senators are pressing the Federal Communications Commission to quickly bring an end to blackouts of National Football League games and other sporting events on local TV stations.

Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and John McCain, R-Ariz., are keeping up their push on the matter, since the comment period for a proposed rule ran out in March.

“Now that the comment deadline has long passed, we urge the Commission to move forward expeditiously on eliminating the sports blackout rule (SBR). We believe that the rule unfairly harms consumers by insulating the NFL from market realities and punishing fans in cities with large stadiums and declining populations,” the senators wrote in a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.

Full story

June 2, 2014

VA Bills Face Familiar Senate Gauntlet (Video)

The Senate’s efforts to address the scandal rocking the Department of Veterans Affairs could run headlong into the chamber’s usual gridlock and partisan politics.

While there has been a bipartisan clamor for action in the wake of the scandal that has already led to the resignation of Secretary Eric Shinseki, Democrats and Republicans are drafting separate bills and the usual Senate suspects — fights over money and amendments — could spell trouble.

A senior Democratic aide said Monday that a broad package of emergency authorizations for the VA, authored by Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Bernard Sanders, may not reach the Senate floor for a couple of weeks, with the chamber expected to turn its attention next week to a student loan refinancing bill.

The Vermont independent’s package would authorize 27 new VA medical facilities and the hiring of doctors and nurses to reduce wait times, among numerous other steps.

Republicans led by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., are readying a rival bill that would focus on giving veterans waiting for care a private health care option.

The Senate could move more quickly on enhanced firing authority for senior VA personnel, but there’s an ongoing dispute over whether due process protections should be added to the bill that passed the House last month with 390 votes.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., renewed his call for quick action Monday on WFLA radio in Orlando.

“So what can we do about it? I think the most important thing we can do right now, immediately, is bring some level of accountability to the VA. Right now, the VA secretary or the new secretary, whenever we have one in place, if you identify some sort of senior executive who isn’t doing their job — say running a VA hospital — you can’t fire them. You have no power to go in and just fire them,” Rubio said.

The bill Sanders is introducing this week includes civil service protections absent from the House bill.

President Barack Obama signaled last week that fixing the immediate management concerns would be the first priority in remedying the now widely apparent deficiencies at the VA.

“Before we start spending more money, our first job is let’s take care of some basic management issues that I think can be fixed,” Obama said.

Obama did, however, indicate that he’s likely to ask Congress for more money, whether it be for doctors and nurses or other improvements to limit wait times.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Monday the Senate should act quickly.

“We must not allow any service member, past or present, to simply fall through the cracks,” he said on the Senate floor. “Now that the Senate has returned from its state work period, we should pass Sen. Sanders’ bill as soon as possible, ensuring that our veterans get the care they deserve.”

But Sanders won’t have the only proposal debated this week. McCain is set to lead a contingent of Republicans Tuesday in unveiling their own plan for giving veterans access to private health care options outside the VA system. Reid also highlighted provisions in the Sanders bill that would give veterans stuck on wait lists and mired in the claims backlog access to private hospitals, military care and community health centers.

Reid sought to put Republicans on defense as skinflints. When the Nevada Democrat opened the floor after the weeklong Memorial Day recess, he recalled how Republicans derailed an earlier veterans health overhaul introduced by Sanders.

That bill fell apart on a budget point of order for busting budget caps. The primary offset would have been claimed savings from winding down the war in Afghanistan.

“Taking care of our nation’s wounded veterans does cost money, but it’s money well spent,” Reid said, likely setting up a debate over offsets.

“Republicans didn’t worry about busting the budget when they initially sent our troops, by the hundreds of thousands, to Iraq on a credit card,” he continued. “Republicans ignore the true cost of democracy. The lives and well-being of the brave men and women who fight to protect our way of life is part of the cost of our democracy.

“Instead, Republicans focus on the monetary cost only, the dollar bills, because any money going to our veterans is one less dollar going to billionaires and corporations in unnecessary tax cuts,” he added, reprising a familiar refrain.

Another opportunity for the Senate to debate veterans’ health care policy could come in June, when it could debate the Military Construction-VA appropriations bill.

Under one plan under consideration, individual spending bills could be packaged together into “minibus” measures. The Senate Appropriations Committee is likely to have provided leadership with six bills to pick from by the time spending bill season arrives on the floor.

Humberto Sanchez contributed to this report.

May 28, 2014

In VA Scandal, More Senators Call for Shinseki Ouster, FBI Investigation (Updated)

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 5:47 p.m. | The snowball of senators and Senate candidates calling for Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign turned into an avalanche Wednesday afternoon.

There were also new calls for the FBI to investigate following the release of a devastating audit.

Colorado Democrat Mark Udall tweeted that Shinseki should go just as Arizona’s senators wrapped up a news conference saying the same.

Other Democrats joined in throughout the afternoon Wednesday, including Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina.

“Secretary Shinseki has served our country honorably over many decades, but in the interest of regaining the trust of our veterans, and implementing real and lasting reforms, I believe it is time for him to step aside and allow new leadership to take the helm at the VA to correct these failings immediately,” Hagan said in a statement.

Full story

May 21, 2014

In Wake of VA Scandal, McCain Proposes Private Health Option for Veterans

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McCain is planning a bill that would let veterans bypass the VA for health care. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. John McCain accused President Barack Obama of attempting “damage control” Wednesday when he made a statement about the a scandal at the VA involving allegations of manipulated wait time reports.

The comments by the Arizona Republican, whose home state has been at the epicenter of the controversy, came along with an announcement about new legislation designed to permit veterans greater freedom to seek treatment away from facilities run by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“What did the president say today? Not much. Three weeks after … this scandal broke, the allegations of the most serious kind, that 40 people died unnecessarily because of malpractice or whatever you want to call it at the VA hospital [in Phoenix]. And now, allegations coming in from all over the country. There are 26 different VA hospitals where charges have been made,” McCain told a radio station back in Arizona. “What is the president doing? He’s sending down one of his political operatives to Phoenix, when he should be sending veterans’ service organizations people, key veterans and people with military as well as VA experience.”

McCain said that three GOP senators are drafting legislation to allow veterans to access health care services outside the traditional VA system. The move comes amid increasing the ongoing criticism of the Obama administration’s handling of the VA scandal in Phoenix and elsewhere.

Full story

May 17, 2014

McCain: ‘We Should All Be Ashamed’ of VA Health Scandal

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In the weekly GOP address, one of the Senate’s few remaining veterans criticized the Obama administration’s management of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Sen. John McCain cited the initial reports of veterans dying while waiting to receive medical treatment at a VA facility in his home state of Arizona, as well as the widespread scandal that’s developed since then.

“Hundreds, if not thousands, of veterans have been made to suffer more or even passed away as a result of egregious mismanagement and scheduling delays at the VA. No one should be treated this way in a country as great as ours,” McCain said. “But treating those to whom we owe the most so callously — so ungratefully — is unconscionable, and we should all be ashamed.”

Full story

May 7, 2014

Senator on Veterans Affairs Allegations: ‘Just Because CNN Says Something, Doesn’t Always Make It The Case’ (Video)

During Senate floor debate Wednesday over authorizing funds for the Department of Veterans Affairs in 18 states, the Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Bernard Sanders criticized members for jumping to conclusions over alleged misconduct at VA facilities, including in Phoenix, Ariz., which has received extensive media attention following a CNN report last week.

“I am not a lawyer, but I did learn enough in school to know that you don’t find somebody guilty without assessing the evidence,” the Vermont Independent said. “And frankly, just because CNN says something, doesn’t always make it the case.”

Some Senate Republicans, including Minority Whip John Cornyn, called for Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign on Tuesday, while others, such as Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., have refused to call for Shinseki’s ouster until hearings are held and the Inspector General’s report is complete. Full story

April 28, 2014

John McCain Laughs at Ted Cruz

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(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has sparred recently with his longtime colleague John Kerry, but dismissed Sen. Ted Cruz’s suggestion Monday that the secretary of state should resign over his reportedly saying Israel was headed toward being an “apartheid” state.

“Resign?” McCain said, chuckling. “Woo. That’s a pretty high bar.”

McCain said his response to Cruz could be described as “Sen. McCain laughed heartily.”

McCain did say an apology might be in order, however.

“If he made that mistake, he should clarify it immediately,” McCain said of Kerry’s reported comments.

April 14, 2014

Obama Not Considering Arms to Ukraine, Plans to Call Putin

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McCain is one senator who called for lethal aid. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senators in both parties have said arms for Ukraine should be on the table as that country faces down a threat from Russian President Vladimir Putin, but President Barack Obama has no plans to go there.

“We’re not actively considering lethal aid,” Press Secretary Jay Carney said Monday.

Instead, the administration seems intent on letting the threat of much broader economic sanctions dissuade Putin from a further invasion — and Carney signaled the president would call Putin later today.

Carney, however, denied that the dispute with Russia amounted to another Cold War.

Russia is not the Soviet Union, and there is no longer a Warsaw Pact, he said.

“Russia is a regional power to be sure,” Carney added, but he declined to answer whether Russia represented a threat to the United States. Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 3:04 p.m.
John McCain

April 8, 2014

McCain, Kerry Have Tense Exchange at Foreign Relations Hearing (Video)

Sen. John McCain, R- Ariz., confronted Secretary of State John Kerry about the Obama administration’s foreign policy in a heated exchange at a Senate Foreign Relations hearing Tuesday.

“I must say, I think you’re about to hit the trifecta,” McCain told Kerry, citing the ongoing conflict in Syria, the seemingly stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and the uncertain nuclear deal with Iran, which McCain predicted would collapse.

McCain further lambasted Kerry, who was testifying on the administration’s national security and foreign policy budget priorities, on failing to provide defensive weapons to Ukraine, saying the failure to do so was “beyond logic.”

“On the issue of Ukraine, my hero, Teddy Roosevelt, used to say talk softly, but carry a big stick,” said the Arizona Republican. “What you’re doing is talking strongly and carrying a very small stick, in fact, a twig.” Full story

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