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Democrats: GOP sweeps troops' needs under rug

Party leader lost arm in WWII, says he received care unavailable today

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start quote(Senate Republicans) put our veterans on hold and took up the gun lobby.end quote
-- Sen. Daniel Inouye, Hawaii

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Daniel Inouye
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(CNN) -- The ranking Democrat on the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee lambasted President Bush and congressional Republicans on Saturday for finding "time for special interests, but not an extra day or an hour for our troops."

Speaking on behalf the Democratic Party in the party's weekly address, Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, lamented what he saw as missed opportunities this week to aid American troops and veterans.

"Senators on both sides of the aisle were set to talk about getting our troops the resources they need, funding veterans' health care in the years to come, and strengthening our national defense at a time of war," he said.

"Unfortunately, Senate Republicans had a different idea. Instead of taking time for this important debate, they set discussions aside -- put our veterans on hold -- and took up the gun lobby."

The U.S. Senate approved 65-31 a bill on Friday that protects gun manufacturers and dealers from liability lawsuits. Only 14 Democratic senators voted in favor of the bill.

According to Inouye, who fought in World War II and lost his right arm, U.S. troops and veterans do not receive the same level of health care that they did in the past. "I came home to the finest health care this nation could provide. For nearly two years, doctors and nurses took care of me and made certain I was ready to go back into the world," he said of his injury, sustained in April 1945, near the Italian village of San Terenzo.

"But today, because of budget cuts and lack of funds, a soldier with a similar injury would be discharged in less than a year because he has no rehabilitation work. This a problem we need to address -- not one to sweep under the rug and put off for weeks," he said.

"Our men and women who have served should not worry about funding for health care year after year, and our soldiers on the front lines should get the resources they needs. Our Congress should consider our men and our women in uniform as our nation's top priority."

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