A far reaching veterans bill, sponsored by Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), fell four votes shy February 28 of the 60-vote threshold to advance in the Senate.
The bill, which received support from all the chamber’s Democrats and two Republicans, contained a variety of benefits for veterans with disabilities, many of whom are struggling with the backlog of veterans disability claims and wait times at VA health clinics.
Specifically, the measure would have provided funding for 27 new health care facilities, expanded certain health care benefits, and extended the period of time veterans can enroll in the VA health care system from five years to 10 years after deployment, according to the Washington Post.
Democrats criticized Republican attempts to limit the scope of the bill and to add a provision imposing additional sanctions against Iran, according to CNN. Republicans expressed dismay when Democrats blocked them from offering amendments to the $21 billion bill, which contained more than 140 provisions.
“Unfortunately, the partisanship that has trumped most political action in Washington has left this important veterans legislation in its wake,” the Paralyzed Veterans of America said in a news release. “We are deeply disappointed that the Senate could not set aside its differences to support the men and women who have already sacrificed so much for this country.”
The vote came a week after the Social Security Administration announced a new initiative that will expand on an existing program that expedites claims for benefits from veterans.