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Senator Victor Torres: Adam Putnam Didn't Support Veterans When It Counted

The Associated Press is reporting that Adam Putnam will release his plan on veterans and the military in Jacksonville this morning. Below is a statement from State Senator and Marine Corps veteran Victor Torres on Putnam’s record on veterans issues:

“Adam Putnam spent ten years in Washington D.C. repeatedly voting to take away health care from veterans and deny them access to higher education. As a member of Congress, Putnam was so anti-veteran that he opposed the bipartisan 21st Century GI bill and voted to increase health care costs at the VA. Putnam is a career politician who never served in uniform and only supports America’s veterans during election season — and then betrays us while in office. Florida’s veterans deserve a governor who will honor and fight for us — not cynically use us as a political prop to win higher office.”

In Washington DC, Adam Putnam Voted Against Veterans

In May 2008, Putnam Voted Against an Amendment Expanding Educational Benefits for Veterans. In 2008, Putnam voted against an amendment that would create an expanded educational benefit for veterans, imposing a surtax on the very wealthy to offset the costs of the new veterans’ program and suspend implementation of seven Bush administration Medicaid regulations. The amendment appropriated $21.2 billion for domestic programs, military construction and foreign aid programs. It would provide $4.6 billion for military construction and $5.8 billion for levee building in Louisiana. The amendment would provide a permanent expansion of education benefits for post-Sept. 11 veterans, offset with a 0.47 percent surtax on modified adjusted gross income above $500,000 per year for individuals and $1 million for couples. It also would temporarily extend unemployment insurance benefits and place a moratorium through March 2009 on seven Medicaid regulations proposed by the administration. It would appropriate $9.9 billion for the State Department, USAID and international food assistance. The amendment passed 256-166. [HR 2642, Vote #330, 5/15/08; Congressional Quarterly, Congressional Quarterly Weekly, 5/16/08]

The 21st Century GI Bill More Than Doubled the Educational Benefits Available to Veterans and Allowed the Benefit to Be Passed to Some Family Members. According to the Toledo Blade, “The previous G.I. Bill, first passed in 1944, provided $40,000 in benefits. The new version, signed by President Bush, more than doubles the benefit to $90,000 and allows the benefit to be passed to family members in some cases. The legislation is expected to cost $63 billion over the next 10 years for increased college aid to veterans serving after Sept. 11, 2001.” [Toledo Blade, 7/3/08]

The 21st Century GI Bill Provided More Equitable Benefits for National Guardsmen. According to the Toledo Blade, “Tuition benefits will be indexed to the most expensive in-state public school where the veteran is enrolled. The increased aid would provide full in-state tuition and fees for enrollment in a public college, a monthly housing stipend, and $1,000 per year for books and supplies. Veterans who serve three years would receive the full benefit while those serving less than three would receive between 40 and 90 percent. The 21st Century G.I. bill also would provide more equitable benefits for members of the National Guard and Reserve, Mr. Brown said.” [Toledo Blade, 7/3/08]

Putnam Opposed Expanding TRICARE To Thousands Of National Guard & Reserve Volunteers. In 2005, Putnam voted against a motion to expand access to the military’s TRICARE health insurance program to thousands of reservist and National Guard members. Despite the fact that more than 433,000 members of the National Guard and Reserves have been called up for active duty over the last two and one-half years, not all Guardsmen and Reservists have access to TRICARE. The motion failed 211-218. [HR1815, Vote #221, 5/25/05]

Putnam Voted to Increase Health Fees on Veterans Rather Than Allocate Additional Funds. Putnam voted against a Democratic amendment to that would provide an additional $735 million for the Defense Health Program to make unnecessary an increase in veterans’ health fees. The bill currently comes up with the $735 million in funding through an increase in health care user fees. The motion to kill the Democratic effort passed 211-186. [HR5385, Vote #173, 5/19/06; Leadership Document, “Better and More Affordable Health Care for Veterans and Military Families,” 5/19/06]

Putnam Supported a Budget That Cut Veterans’ Health Care By $13.5 Billion Over Five Year. In 2005, Putnam voted in favor of final passage of the $2.6 trillion budget conference report for 2006. The conference report cut funding for veterans’ health care by $13.5 billion over five years. However, the budget still found room for $106 billion in tax cuts for those who need it the least. The budget passed 214-211. [HCR95, Vote #149, 4/28/05; House Budget Committee Democratic Caucus, “Summary and Analysis of FY 2006 Budget Resolution Conference Report.” 4/28/05]

Putnam Voted Against Health Care and Compensation for 9/11 First Responders. In July 2010, Putnam voted against a bill to give health care and compensation packages for 9/11 first responders because the bill closed corporate tax loopholes that allowed corporations to shelter incomes in foreign subsidiaries. “As recently as Sept. 29, he was the only New Jersey lawmaker to oppose a bill providing medical care and compensation for workers sickened by exposure to toxic substances at Ground Zero.” [H.R. 847, Vote #550, 9/29/10]

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