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Thu Feb 27, 2014, 07:54 AM

Iran sanctions dispute hurts vets bill prospects


Iran sanctions dispute hurts vets bill prospects
By Alan Fram
The Associated Press
February 27, 2014


The prospects for an election-year Senate bill aimed at beefing up benefits for America's veterans are caught in the dispute over whether to impose sanctions on Iran.

Democrats resumed trying to push legislation through the Senate on Wednesday that would allow more veterans to get treatment at Veterans Affairs Department facilities, expand dental care and fertility treatment, and bolster education and job-training benefits. A showdown vote was expected Thursday.

Helping veterans is popular with both parties. But Republicans are demanding a vote on an amendment that would reduce the costs of the $21 billion legislation and also impose fresh sanctions on Iran if ongoing negotiations over curbing that country's nuclear program fail.

President Barack Obama opposes those sanctions, saying international talks should be given a chance to succeed. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has blocked attempts to hold a vote on the sanctions which mirrors earlier bipartisan legislation that garnered 59 co-sponsors and had the potential to pass the chamber and embarrass Obama.

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