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McFeely: Cramer's betrayal shows Republicans despise Democrats more than they love veterans

ND U.S. Sen. Kevin Cramer was one of 25 Republican senators who voted against a bill that would provide health care and benefits for millions of veterans injured by exposure to toxins like Agent Orange in Vietnam and burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan. Veterans and their advocates had spent a dozen years pushing for the bill, which had drawn bipartisan support. It was a vote made out of spite toward Democrats.

Kevin Cramer
U.S. Sen. Kevin Cramer. Forum News Service file photo
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FARGO — Kevin Cramer loves veterans so much he once used deceased ones as props in a campaign ad.

If that wasn't bad enough, now he loves them so much he's using them as political pawns.

Kind of make those syrupy Veterans Day tribute videos posted on social media ring hollow, no?

When it came time last week to vote in favor on a no-brainer bill for which veterans and their families begged, the Republican U.S. senator from North Dakota chose extreme partisanship over those who served America.

Despising Democrats outweighed love of veterans.

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Republicans like to wrap themselves in the flag and declare themselves the uber-patriots — it's branding more than reality, given their worship of an insurrection-leading former president — but last week their true colors showed.

Cramer was one of 25 Republican senators who voted against a bill that would provide health care and benefits for millions of veterans injured by exposure to toxins like Agent Orange in Vietnam and burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan. Veterans and their advocates had spent a dozen years pushing for the bill, which had drawn bipartisan support.

As recently as June, the Senate voted 84-14 in favor of the same bill. Because of a technical error, the bill had to be voted on again.

This time Cramer and his extremist GOP colleagues changed their votes. Their lockstep excuse was that Democrats inserted a "budgetary gimmick" into the bill that switched a spending mechanism from discretionary to mandatory. Why Republicans would be so opposed to mandatory spending on veterans is something they haven't explained, and that's perhaps because their talking points can be charitably described as bull-hockey.

Republicans voted the way they did because they are mad at Democrats for agreeing on a historic bill addressing climate change, health care, inflation and taxes. Democrats politically outmaneuvered Republicans to pass a bill Democrats support in a Democratic-led Senate and the Grievanced Old Party threw a tantrum worthy of a 7-year-old.

Video from the Senate floor showed Sens. Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley fist-bumping in celebration after Republicans killed the bill.

A fist-bump when millions of veterans were denied health care and benefits.

It was all about beating Democrats, not helping veterans. Poisonous politics above service to country.

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Republicans, including Cramer, have spent the past few days back-pedaling and explaining why they voted against veterans. Their excuses sound like something George Orwell would write: "I support veterans, even though I voted against them." War is peace, freedom is slavery.

In a 2014 campaign ad when he was running for re-election to the U.S. House, Cramer taped a television ad showing himself helping lay a wreath at the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery in Mandan before a group of saluting men. It was staged. Veterans groups criticized the ad and Cramer pulled it from the airwaves (but left it posted online).

Cramer used the veterans laid to rest in that cemetery as props then. He's using suffering veterans as pawns now.

If only he loved them more than he despises Democrats.

Mike McFeely is a columnist for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. He began working for The Forum in the 1980s while he was a student studying journalism at Minnesota State University Moorhead. He's been with The Forum full time since 1990, minus a six-year hiatus when he hosted a local radio talk-show.
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