Several Democrats joined Republicans in overturning the current requirement that the Department of Veterans Affairs send a beneficiary’s name to the FBI’s background check system when a veteran applies for help managing VA benefits.
From Rolling Stone:
Five senators who caucus with Democrats — three Democrats and two Independents, all up for reelection in 2024 — voted with Republicans to adopt the amendment. “It is not right that a D.C. bureaucrat at VA could take away a veterans’ legal right to their firearms simply because they needed assistance managing their finances,” said Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mt.).
Angus King, an Independent who represents Maine, also voted to adopt it. So did Susan Collins, the long-serving Maine Republican. Neither senator’s office immediately responded to requests for comment about the vote.
Roll Call reported that in addition to Sens. Tester and King, Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin and Jacky Rosen also voted with the Republicans as did independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema. The bill is part of what Roll Call called a “spending ‘minibus’ to provide fiscal 2024 funding for transportation, housing, agriculture, military construction and veterans programs with amendment votes. It includes other GOP goodies such as banning the Transportation Department from using fiscal 2024 funds to enforce a federal mask mandate and blocking HUD from using funds to ensure higher energy efficiency standards in new construction, Roll Call also reported.
Majority Leader Chuck Schumer seems on board:
“This will be the Senate working as it should — both parties cooperating, debating amendments working through differences without grinding the legislative process to a halt,” Schumer said. “Democrats promised our Republican colleagues that their voices would be heard and we’re making good on that process.”
Although the bill seems likely to pass, we can hope that the Maine massacre, committed by Army reservist Robert Card, with a history of mental illness, will give the lawmakers second thoughts.