Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Rick Noriega lashed Republican incumbent John Cornyn at a Houston news conference today over Cornyn's recent vote against a bill to expand benefits for military veterans.
Cornyn, however, said he favors what he calls a more effective version.
"We should be appalled and enraged as Texans and as patriots at his behavior on the Senate floor," Noriega, a state House member from Houston, said on the main campus of the University of Houston, which he attended.
Noriega recalled that veterans lived in trailers on the UH campus many years ago while getting a college education funded by the GI Bill.
Cornyn and presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain last week were on the losing side fo a 70-22 Senate vote for the benefits package, which would pay education costs for National Guard and miltary reserve veterans who serve active duty and meet other requirements.
Cornyn, citing a study by the Congressional Budget Office, said the bill was irresponsible because the offer of such benefits would encourage military personnel to use them rather then re-enlist in armed forces units. The Bush administration has branded the bill as too expensive.
Noriega, a National Guard lieutentant colonel who served in Afghanistan, said he, rather than Cornyn, knows from working with reservists that any new benefits have nothing to do with their re-enlistment choices.
Instead, he said, the personnel choose to end their service because they already have served multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan and want to ease the toll on their families.
Noriega said Cornyn supports a "half-step, double-talk" version of the bill that would not give reservists full educational benefits after serving active duty.
Noriega, standing on the campus with six war veterans of various generations, said it was "an absurd statement" that the bill costs too much while Cornyn and other senators vote for $165 billion in continued funding for the war.
I should note, by the way, that the Cornyns and McCains of the world are aided in this pursuit by a small but persistent group of House Democrats, who perversely oppose various forms of spending out of a misguided sense of fiscal prudence. I'm sorry, but you cannot simultaneously be a deficit hawk and a war hawk. Pick one or the other, because the two together do not mix.Posted by Charles Kuffner on May 31, 2008 to Election 2008