However, it is not supported by John McCain, who didn't even show up to vote for this historic legislation OR the underlying money for the open-ended war he champions. No, McCain feels that this investment in the education of our service-members is too generous. If anyone challenges him, he huffs and puffs and grows irritated as if his service record alone provides immunity to any such assertions. To the thousands in uniform who fight the war, to those who have already served, and to those who look to one day serve, it is more than insulting...especially since it comes from a man who has said publicly that he has no problem with Americans fighting and dying in Iraq for the next 100 years.
More on today:
McCain skipped the vote in favor of campaigning in California, including attending a fundraiser sponsored by San Diego Chargers owner Alex Spanos. But his White House rivals, Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) were very much present.
"I respect Senator John McCain's service to our country," Obama said on the Senate floor. "But I can't understand why he would line up behind the president in opposition to this G.I. Bill. I can't believe why he believes it is too generous to our veterans." McCain's comeback was withering, a lengthy statement questioning Obama's knowledge of veterans issues and his commitment to national security."I take a backseat to no one in my affection, respect and devotion to veterans. And I will not accept from Senator Obama, who did not feel it was his responsibility to serve our country in uniform, any lectures on my regard for those who did," he said in the statement.
The issue is likely to reverberate for weeks. The House will take up the Senate-passed war funding bill after Memorial Day recess, then dare Bush to make good on his promised veto. McCain has shown no sign of backing away from his opposition to Webb's updated G.I. Bill, which he says is too costly and is so generous that it would lure soldiers and Marines away from an already stretched military. And he appears more than willing to challenge virtually every veterans organization on the issue, from the Republican-friend Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion to the more Democratic VoteVets.org.
"We're certainly pleased that the G.I. Bill has passed and now will likely go to the president, but disappointed that Senator McCain put his own coffers ahead of this crucial debate, and chose not to vote," said Jon Soltz, an Iraq War veteran and VoteVets chairman. "Senator McCain knows how tough things are for those fighting in Iraq, and when they get home. All of us would love to spend time getting money and talking football. But, sometimes there are more important things to do in life."