In a shameful snub of US veterans just three days before Veteran's day, our own Indiana congressman Steve Buyer, who is now the House Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman, on Tuesday announced that for the first time in over 50 years, veterans service organizations will no longer have the opportunity to present testimony before a joint hearing of the House and Senate Veterans' Affairs Committees.
The Disabled American Veterans have called Buyer's announcement "an insult to all who have fought, sacrificed and died to defend the Constitution."
"The right to fully participate in the democratic process is a cornerstone of our nation," said Commander Paul W. Jackson of the DAV. "Eliminating these joint hearings is an insult to the men and women who have fought, sacrificed and died to protect our Constitutional rights, including the right to petition the government."
Buyer, whose undistinguished career is marked by one of the most extreme far-right voting records in Congress, replaced Representative Chris Smith as chairman of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs. Smith was disliked by the Republican leadership for his tireless advocacy of veterans rights and his vocal opposition to stingy VA budgets. He was removed as committee chairman in January by House Speaker Dennis Hastert.
Under a rule change adopted in 1995, the House Speaker can remove any committee chairman deemed "incompetent or disloyal" (read: toe the conservative line). During his four-year tenure, Smith authored twenty-two bills benefiting veterans, which displeased the Republican leadership who, while always quick to heap vocal praise, has consistently delivered a royal screwing to our nation's veterans when it comes time to dish out anything but lip service.
After the move in January, Buyer was praised by a Repubican aide as someone "who'll be able to tell the veterans groups, 'Enough is enough.'"
Perhaps one day the voters in his district (of which I am one) will say "enough is enough" to this embarrassing GOP conservative lap dog and give him the boot.