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Sen. Claire McCaskill (D): “Vets For Claire” listening tour in Columbia (August 25, 2012)

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D): “Vets For Claire” listening tour in Parkville (August 24, 2012)

Representative Stephen Webber (D) at Senator Claire McCaskill’s (D) “Vets for Claire” event in Columbia on Saturday, August 25, 2012.

Representative Stephen Webber (D) is a veteran who spent two tours in Iraq as a Marine Infantryman. He represents Columbia as a member of the House in the Missouri General Assembly and is seeking reelection for a third term.

Yesterday, after Senator Claire McCaskill’s veterans’ event in Columbia, Representative Webber took a few moments to speak with us:

Show Me Progress: As a, as a Democratic office holder and veteran how do you reconcile the difference in the Republican Party when it comes to rhetoric and actual practice on veterans issues?

Representative Stephen Webber (D): It’s incredibly frustrating. And there are, part of the, part of the problem is that everybody assumes that every, you know, office holder’s gonna support veterans. And so they don’t look at the record. And that’s not factually what’s happened. And I can give you very specific, specific examples at the state level of, uh, veterans bills that I’ve had. Uh, for example, um, what that said, state employees, if they were activated, if they were in the National Guard and they were in the Reserves, the state would make up the difference in their pay. Um, ’cause there was a problem with judges getting a full military salary and a full judicial salary, but Highway Patrol officers getting activated and losing money, having a hard time making their mortgage. Um, that was, make sure their pay stays equal. And it was killed in the Veterans Committee, Republicans voted against it in the House Veterans Committee.  Um, and it’s just frustrating.

Show Me Progress: So, and in the discussions about bills like that what, what reasoning is given for defeating those, these kinds of bills?

Representative Webber: The argument that I was told was that, um, they thought it was unfair to help veterans that were active, reservists that were state employees and not help, uh, ones in the private sector. Um, by that logic, their logic, every state employee ought to be making minimum wage and no benefits. Uh, because any time you give anything to any state employee, uh, you’re, you’re putting them at an advantage versus private sector folks. I mean, that’s, that’s illogical reasoning. Uh, it’s, it’s also, you know, I’d be happy to try and expand it to everybody in the private sector, but, I mean, there, there’s no way they’re gonna consider that either, so.

Show Me Progress: And, and you, you spoke very eloquently, uh, about, uh, about Senator McCaskill’s support for veterans and veterans issues. Uh, at the, at the national level and with the candidates in, in Missouri who run, uh, you know, at the national level, uh, is, is this the norm?

Representative Webber: You know, I, I think the Republicans are continually, their rhetoric is the norm. Uh, I think Democrats do try to take substantive actions. Uh, I think Claire McCaskill has probably gone above and beyond even what most Democrats do. Um, she’s really made it personal. Um, she’s really, I mean, you can see when you ask her questions, she knows the  policies, not just the, the top level policies, she knows more of the internal policies. Um, and I think she’s been a real leader on that.

And it’s frustrating, because, you know, a lot of these ideas, like the ideas about expanding the GI Bill have been around for a long time. The Republicans had every opportunity to pass that when they were in charge of the House and Senate. They didn’t do it. So, it is the norm for them to ignore these issues.

Show Me Progress: All, right, thank you very much for your time.

Representative Webber: Absolutely.