Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Fact Check: Ed Bryant No Friend To Our Nation's Heroes

This week Ed Bryant's campaign has been touting his "strong" support of our nation's veterans.

However, once again, their rhetoric does not match reality.

The truth of the matter is Ed Bryant has done nothing but a disservice to our nation's heroes through his insistence on cutting veterans programs and his inaction when our veterans needed him the most.

Below are just a few of the many atrocious votes Ed cast against our nation's heroes while serving in Congress:

  • Bryant voted to slash veterans' benefits by $6.7 billion 11/17/1995 Bill information: HR 2491, 1995 Budget-Reconciliation, Source: Washington Times 11/18/95

  • Bryant voted to underfund medical care for veterans by voting to fund the program at $400 million below President Bill Clinton's request 11/17/1995 Bill information: HR 2491, 1995 Budget-Reconciliation

  • Bryant voted for the fiscal 1996 VA-HUD Appropriations bill that cut total program funding by more than $9 million 12/7/1995 Bill information: HR 2099, Vote #844

  • Bryant supported cuts in mandatory spending for veterans' programs by approximately $10.4 billion over five years 6/5/1998 Bill information: H. Con. Res. 284

  • Bryant voted against a motion that would recommit the 2000 Omnibus Appropriations Agreement with instructions to the House managers to not agree to any provisions that would lessen appropriations for medical care 11/18/1999 Bill information: Motion to HR 3194, Rejected 212-219

  • Bryant voted against a substitute resolution that calls for $12.2 billion more in defense spending, $3.4 billion more in discretionary agricultural spending and $1.1 billion for veterans' health care 3/25/1999 Bill information: Amendment to H. Con. Res. 68, Rejected 134-295

  • Bryant voted against fully funding veterans' health programs, including those authorized under the Veterans Millennium Healthcare Act 7/30/01 Bill information: HR 2620

  • Bryant voted against a proposal that would provide additional funding for veterans' healthcare under the Fiscal 2003 Continuing Appropriations bill 11/13/02 Bill information: H. J. Res. 124

As we all know, supporting our nation's heroes means taking care of them after their tour of duty is over by insuring they receive complete and improved veterans benefits. Clearly Ed Bryant has failed to do that.

Congressman Harold Ford Jr. on the other hand has a long and distinguished track record of supporting our best and bravest.

For instance, in July 2004 Congressman Ford introduced the Enhancement of Veterans Mental Health Services Act which would help combat service members and veterans deal with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Describing the need for the legislation Ford said, "Many of our brave men and women serving in combat zones in the Iraq and Afghanistan theaters are under tremendous psychological and emotional stress. As more of our troops return home, it is vitally important that the Veterans Affairs and Defense Departments have the resources and expertise to diagnose and treat those who may be suffering from PTSD."

In June 2005, Congressman Ford once again came to the aide of veterans when he helped provide health benefits for almost 2,400 veterans in Tennessee and some 150,000 veterans across the nation who were set to lose their benefits.

Speaking on the issue of veterans benefits Ford said, "Our country’s men and women in uniform refuse to leave a brother or sister on the field of combat, and we in Congress should refuse to leave even one of our nation’s veterans behind – behind on medical bills, behind on access to prescription drugs or behind on needed hospital care." “We must not stop short of making good on our commitment to the Americans who’ve fought from Baghdad to the Beaches of Normandy. We must leave no veteran behind.”

Also in June 2005 Congressman Ford called on President Bush to address the shortfalls in veterans' healthcare.

In his letter to the President Ford said, “The current shortfall in veterans care funding would leave more than 4,000 Tennessee veterans and nearly 200,000 veterans nationwide without healthcare benefits. We owe it to the millions of brave men and women who have served our country – more than a half million of whom live right here in Tennessee – to make good on the debt our country owes them,” Ford said. “We should not welcome the thousands of veterans from our state and nation returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan by slashing their healthcare and prescription drug benefits.”

And recently, Congressman Ford fought tooth and nail to save our state's 118th Airlift Wing from extinction. But guess what? Ed Bryant was no where to be found.

Ford even challenged his opponents to join him in helping save the 118th saying, “I have written a letter to President Bush asking him to reverse his ill-timed and dangerous decision to cut the Tennessee National Guard and particularly the 118th Airlift Wing in Nashville. These cuts are not only harmful to Tennessee but jeopardize our national security. We owe more than a pink slip to the thousands of members of Tennessee's 278th Regimental Combat Team who served with quiet determination and bravery in Iraq," said Ford, who recently returned from his fourth trip to the region.

“Van Hilleary, Bob Corker and Ed Bryant should join me and Governor Bredesen in our efforts to protect our Tennessee National Guard. I urge them to sign my letter to President Bush.”

Apparently Ed was once again practicing his Taoist belief of action through inaction.

As you can see, Ed Bryant is no friend to our nation's heroes. He has willfully voted time and time again against our veterans and the programs that benefit them.

Congressman Harold Ford Jr. is willing to stand up and fight for our nation's veterans. He understands the importance of leaving no veteran behind.

As our next U.S. Senator, I am confident he will continue his fight for all nation's heroes across this great state and nation.

More: Chairman Tuke, a veteran himself, also is going after Ed Bryant for saying one thing and doing another when it comes to veterans.

84 Days

Days of Congressional Inaction on Ethics

Above is the number of days that have passed since Jack Abramoff pleaded guilty to bribing Congressman.

It is also the number of days in which Congress has failed to pass an ethics reform bill that would limit private travel, ski and golf junkets, and would call for a full disclosure of expenses by lobbyists on members of Congress.

It is time for Congress to step up and pass an ethics reform bill that would do all of the above. In addition, it is time to end the pork barrel spending system as we know it and establish an independent ethics commission that would review ethics complaints against members of Congress.

I am proud Congressman Harold Ford Jr. is fighting for that reform!

Read Congressman Ford's call for reform of the House rules here!