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Hinchey Calls Blue Dog Behavior "absolutely Shameful"

Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.) issued a stern rebuke to a group of fellow House Democrats on Thursday, saying that the behavior of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog coalition was "absolutely shameful," after the group revolted on Wednesday over the cost of veterans' educations benefits in a war funding measure, delaying consideration of the $183 billion supplemental spending bill.

"It is absolutely shameful that members of the Blue Dog Coalition would vote to take this country into Iraq on false intelligence and lies, repeatedly vote to fund the disastrous military occupation of that country, but choose to turn their backs on the brave members of our armed forces by refusing to support an expansion of education benefits for them when they come home," Hinchey said in a statement.

Hinchey's comments underscore a division within the Democratic caucus over what to include in the supplemental, which could be the only appropriations bill passed out of Congress this year.

House Democrats were forced to postpone consideration of the measure after many Blue Dogs objected to the bill, saying a provision to provide education benefits for returning soldiers violates "pay-as-you-go" rules, which require offsetting new spending.

The veterans benefits package was estimated to cost $720 million for the first two years of the program.

Many Blue Dogs argued the GI benefits package was tantamount to creating a new entitlement program and thus should be offset, an argument that did not sit well with Hinchey, who has long opposed the Iraq war.

"This is a slap in the face to our servicemen and women who courageously risk their lives each day in Iraq and in Afghanistan," Hinchey said.
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