UPDATE: Thurs 10:07 PM, Feb. 27, 2014
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A Democratic bill enhancing health care and other benefits for veterans is facing an uphill climb as the Senate approaches a showdown vote on the $21 billion legislation.
Majority Leader Harry Reid is blocking a vote on a Republican alternative that would eliminate some of the improvements and impose sanctions on Iran for its nuclear program.
Citing Reid's refusal to allow a sanctions vote, GOP senators are expected to rally behind a procedural move Thursday that would derail the veterans bill. It will take 60 votes to keep the bill alive -- more than the 53 Democrats and two Democratic-leaning independents are likely to garner.
President Barack Obama opposes Iran sanctions until international negotiations proceed further. Each party says the other is playing politics with the veterans legislation.
ORIGINAL STORY: Mon 3:44 PM, Feb. 24, 2014
WASHINGTON (AP) -- It's hard to vote against veterans these days.
Two weeks after rolling back an effort to slow cost-of-living pension increases for working-age military retirees, the Senate is now being asked to give veterans a host of new programs costing $21 billion over the next decade.
Debate is scheduled to begin Tuesday on a bill addressing dozens of priorities that veterans have raised in recent years. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is counting on voters supporting more programs for veterans in an election year even though Republicans complain the bill as Democrats wrote it would swell federal deficits.
The bill would make more veterans eligible for VA health care, require public colleges to offer in-state tuition rates to all veterans and help seriously wounded veterans get fertility treatments.
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