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Democrats Criticize Bush Administration's Commitment to Military Veterans - 2003-11-11


Congressional Democrats used the Veteran's Day holiday in the United States to criticize the Bush administration's treatment of the nation's former military personnel.

As lawmakers took turns paying tribute to U.S. veterans in speeches on the Senate floor, some Democrats questioned the commitment of the Bush administration to the well-being of those who once served in the U.S. armed forces.

"Some within the administration seem to believe our responsibility to soldiers end when they come home. But we disagree," said Senator Tom Daschle of South Dakota, the Senate's top Democrat. "These men and women risk their lives to defend their own and ours, they stood up for us, and now we must stand up for them, not with words, but with deeds."

Senator Daschle said the administration has seriously under-funded the budget for veterans' health care, and he took issue with a decision to close seven veterans hospitals around the country.

He joined other Democrats in calling for better access to health care, disability compensation, and other benefits for former service members.

Democratic presidential candidates offered similar comments in Veterans' Day statements.

But Republicans say efforts are being made to improve life for U.S. veterans.

"We are endeavoring to get an additional $1.3 billion to help on veterans' medical benefits," said Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, chairman of the Veterans' Affairs Committee.

The Senate is expected to begin considering a veterans' spending bill in the coming days.