I've never been more proud to have that Kerry sticker on my car today.
Kerry Outmaneuvered in a Rare Attempt to VoteThat's the SENATE MAJORITY LEADER, vets. Playing games with your future well-being while acting as the petulant jerk he's now known to be.
Criticized for his poor Senate attendance, he breaks off campaign to weigh in on a veterans bill that GOP leaders then push back a day.
WASHINGTON - Sen. John F. Kerry made a rare appearance on the Senate floor Tuesday in support of a veterans' health measure that was ultimately delayed by the Republican leadership, a move that underscored the tricky balancing act facing the Democratic presidential nominee as he juggles two jobs.
Under fire from GOP critics for his infrequent attendance in the Senate, Kerry cut short a Southwest campaign swing Monday night to return to the nation's capital to vote on a Democratic-sponsored amendment that would increase funding for veterans' healthcare. The diversion forced him to skip a speech and fundraiser in New Mexico, a crucial swing state.
But the Massachusetts senator spent most of the day cooling his heels at the Capitol waiting for the vote, which GOP leaders put off.
Kerry delivered a speech in support of the measure, an amendment to a defense bill. The amendment, sponsored by Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle, would increase funding for Veterans Affairs healthcare by $300 billion over 10 years. Kerry accused GOP leaders of breaking with Senate tradition by refusing to accommodate his schedule.
"Evidently, this is not a normal time for those courtesies in the life of the Senate," he said.
"I've been around here long enough to not worry about these kinds of things," Kerry added. "So while this vote may not take place while I'm here, my support will never wane and my commitment to veterans will never be diminished."
His allies charged that Republicans manipulated Senate procedure to keep the Democratic candidate from voting on a proposal to assist veterans, one of Kerry's key constituencies.
But GOP leadership aides said Republican leaders were seeking to delay a vote on the veterans healthcare amendment only as a negotiating tactic involving a final vote on the defense bill.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), however, also wasn't inclined to accommodate Kerry.
"Sen. Kerry, who hadn't been here all year, who's missed 80% of all votes this year, parachutes in for a day and then will be taking off once again," Frist told reporters outside the Senate chamber.
God, we have to stop these jackasses. Put up the button.
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