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Partisan fight brewing over restoration of veterans' pension cuts

Feb. 4, 2014 at 3:26 PM

WASHINGTON, Feb. 4 (UPI) -- Senate Republicans, unhappy with Sen. Bernie Sanders' plan, are putting together their own proposal for repealing $6 billion in U.S. veterans' pension cuts.

Sander, an Independent from Vermont who caucuses with Senate Democrats, heads the Veterans Affairs Committee. He has inserted language in the veterans bill that would cover the pension costs by subtracting $24 billion from the Overseas Contingency Operations spending -- funding for wars not covered by discretionary spending caps.

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Roger Wicker of Mississippi are among the Republicans balking at that idea, the Hill reported.

"I don't think that's a real offset," Graham said. "Because we're withdrawing from Iraq [and Afghanistan], we're not going to spend the money, so getting credit for money you don't spend is not an offset."

Wicker concurred, saying, "I'd rather have a bill that we can pay for."

The GOP counter-proposal put together by Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire puts passage of the overall veterans bill in question, the Washington publication said.

Ayotte wants to come up with a total of $20 billion in offsets by preventing illegal immigrants from claiming the additional child tax credit, the Hill said, noting Sanders' version has the support of key veterans groups.

The newspaper reported a Senate Democratic leadership aide said Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada will likely take steps Thursday leading to a cloture vote Monday.

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