I wrote last week how Republican Rep. Gus Bilirakis was shamelessly using the veterans he claims to support as political footballs in his vote to shut down the government, which you can read in more detail here.
Since that writing, he's doubled down on exploiting those veterans to their detriment, and for his own political gain, by trying to mislead the public and shift blame from himself and his party, as noted in this Tweet:
Note that it's not the President who is using politics to interfere with providing veterans' benefits. It's Gus Bilirakis and the Republicans in the House who who voted to shut down the government over the so-called defunding of Obamacare. They own the shutdown. Bilirakis knows that, but he's apparently not about to let facts get in the way when it comes to scoring political points.
In addition to the veterans' benefits that are being cut, from my previous post, the families of service members who were recently killed are now being denied death benefits as well. Again, this is due to the GOP imposed government shutdown that Gus Bilirakis voted for.
One of the utterly ridiculous arguments Republicans have tried to make as they attempt to shift the blame for this is that they never intended for this to happen. Despite being in Congress, they would have you believe that this all came as a surprise to them. Veterans' and military death benefits would come to a halt in the event that the government ceases to operate? Say it ain't so!
Even if this weren't merely a matter of common sense recognized by, well, everyone, not only would these Congressmen and women be aware of this merely because it's their job to know such things, but worse, many of them were briefed about this very thing before they voted to shut down the government and cut off those veterans. Yet Bilirakis and the rest of the Republicans did it anyway:
Pentagon Comptroller Robert Hale warned in late September that military death-benefit payments would be delayed for families of troops who were killed during a government shutdown, but it took until the second week of the crisis for members of Congress to propose doing anything about it.
"We would also be required to do some ... bad things to our people," Hale warned during a briefing on September 27, detailing the negative effects of a shutdown on the military. "We couldn't immediately pay death gratuities to those who die on active duty during the lapse."
In expressing their outrage, Republicans like Bilirakis are quick to point out how shameful this thing they did to veterans is, as if they are completely removed from the entire situation:
“Your government has let you down in a time of need. There’s no excuse for this,” Senator Lindsay Graham of South Carolina, a heavily military state, said Tuesday of the foreseen, announced, and unaddressed delay in death benefits caused by the shutdown.
Lindsey Graham is correct. There IS no excuse for Gus Bilirakis and his fellow Republicans to do this. But do this they did.
And while Blirakis wants to point fingers at others, he knows better, and the fact that he claims otherwise is a further insult to veterans and voters alike. Bilirakis was, and is in a position to know what would happen to those veterans when he kicked them to the curb. After all, he's the Vice Chairman on the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs Subcommittee, Chairman of the Republican Policy Committee Veterans' Affairs Task Force, and the Co-Chair of the Military Veterans Caucus.
Again, Bilirakis' hypocrisy is stunning to say the least. Even more so when paired with his next Tweet, criticizing the roll-out of Obamacare, when there were so many Americans logging onto the website to enroll that it caused a slowdown:
Considering one's self-proclaimed expertise on veterans and the military, one's position on those committees above, and considering many Republicans were briefed beforehand on exactly what would happen to veteran and military benefits in the event of their forced shutdown, Bilirakis and Republicans have no credible excuses either.
Take it from Gus Bilirakis', in his own words.