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.
"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.