Senate Democrats

Reid: President Bush Refuses To Support World War II-Level GI Bill For Today’s Iraq/Afghanistan Veterans

Washington, DCSenate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the following statement today in response to President Bush’s remarks today at the U.S. Air Force Academy:

“It is deeply hypocritical that President Bush draws comparisons between today’s Iraq war and World War II, and then opposes providing World War II-level G.I. Bill education benefits for today’s troops.  The President spoke today about our obligation to invest in future generations’ prosperity – future generations of Iraqis and Afghans – and not our obligation to give our newest generation of veterans the opportunities they have earned.

“Unlike World War II, this President initiated and has grossly mismanaged this war – one that even the President’s own former spokesman now calls ‘not necessary.’  And while American troops fought in World War II for less than four years, the war in Afghanistan is in its seventh year and the war in Iraq is in its sixth.

“Our support for the troops must not end with their tours of duty.  I hope President Bush heeds the call of a bipartisan, veto-proof majority of Congress and the thousands of veterans who know we owe our veterans the support they deserve.”

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President Bush Called for America to Help Rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan Like Europe After WWII. “‘America has assumed this obligation before,’ Bush said in prepared remarks released by the White House. ‘After World War II we helped Germany and Japan build free societies and strong economies. These efforts took time and patience, and as a result Germany and Japan grew in freedom and prosperity and are now allies of the United States.’ The result, Bush says, was ‘generations of security and peace’ in the United States. ‘Today we must do the same in Afghanistan and Iraq,’ he says in the prepared comments. ‘And by helping these young democracies grow in freedom and prosperity we will once again reap the benefits in generations of security and peace.’” [Associated Press, 5/28/08]

But President Bush Threatened to Veto Supplemental Funding Bill With G.I. Bill. “Bush’s hard line in a Rose Garden news conference April 29 could virtually assure a veto of the hotly contested war funding bill. Democrats are likely to add extended unemployment benefits and new education funding for post-Sept. 11 veterans to the war funding bill, along with a few other add-ons. When asked about the popular plan to increase education benefits for troops returning from Iraq, however, Bush held firm. ‘I made my position very clear to Congress and I will not accept a supplemental over $108 billion or a supplemental that micromanages the war, ties the hands of our commanders,’ Bush said. ‘We will work with Congress on these veterans’ benefits …. But the $108 billion is $108 billion.’” [Associated Press, 5/2/08]

Former Spokesman Scott McClellan Wrote That the War in Iraq Was Not Necessary. “McClellan, who had argued strenuously from the White House podium on why the war was justified, wrote that the decision to go to war in Iraq was a ‘fateful misstep.’ ‘What I do know is that war should only be waged when necessary, and the Iraq war was not necessary,’ he said.” [Reuters, 5/28/08]

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