Wednesday, October 8, 2008

McCain scores ‘D’ on veteran report card; Obama, Iowa delegation above average

With four weeks remaining before the election, the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) released its report cards on members of the 110th Congress. Grading was based on legislation that affected veterans and their families.

In the Senate, Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain of Arizona earned a ‘D’ on the report card, while his Democratic opponent, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, finished the term with a ‘B.’ Grades were based on nine votes covering a range of issue including veterans’ health care, the new GI Bill, mental health and support for homeless veterans.

Both of the nominees’ grades were hindered by their attendance. While hitting the campaign trail for potential votes, McCain missed six of the nine votes, while his counterpart, Obama, missed four of the votes.

The IAVA, the largest organization of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, says it is committed to holding elected officials accountable through its nonprofit, nonpartisan 501, the IAVA Action Fund. The advocacy group released the report card on Oct. 6 to educate American voters on the voting records of elected officials and hold them them accountable for their actions regarding the 1.7 million veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The report card scores are based on how often legislators voted in favor of pro-veteran positions that align with the IAVA Action. All of the bills were equally weighted, except the 21st Century GI Bill, which was doubled because it was the IAVA’s top legislative priority.

The latter boded well for Obama, who co-sponsored the bill, but adversely affected McCain, who not only did not support the final version of the bill, but, while fundraising in California, missed the vote. McCain did co-sponsor an alternative bill, which was quickly shot down in the Senate, because it conflicted with Virginia Democratic Sen. Jim Webb’s version of the bill.

Voting against the new GI Bill affected Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who received a ‘C’ on the report card, while his colleague Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, received the highest rating, an ‘A+’.

In the House, Iowa’s freshmen Democrats, Reps. Bruce Braley, District 1, and Dave Loebsack,District 2, joined Harkin at the top with an ‘A+.’ They were closely followed by Reps. Leonard Boswell, D- District 3 and Tom Latham, R- District 4, who received an ‘A,’ and Rep. Steve King, R-District 5, who earned a ‘B’.

The IAVA used 13 votes in the House to assess grades

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