In opposing increased benefits for veterans under the Webb GI bill, President Bush and Sen. John McCain are falling short in supporting our veterans

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With Memorial Day just behind us and the 64th anniversary of D-Day just ahead, this is certainly a good time to be talking about supporting this nation's veterans.

And Sen. Jim Webb's landmark Post 9/11 GI Bill does just that.

But President Bush and Republican presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain oppose the measure. Both are afraid the increased benefits will hurt retention in the military. That thinking is difficult to understand and undermines the commitment the men and women of this nation's armed services make on a daily basis.

The Webb bill passed overwhelmingly in the Senate last week and heads back to the House for approval. When it reaches the House, it should be passed as is, without unwarranted or add-on measures that could threaten its veto-proof approval.

The bill provides veterans who have served since Sept. 11, 2001, comprehensive educational benefits, equal to those who served in World War II. Webb introduced the bill the first day he took office, some 17 months ago.

"Congress today resolutely asserted that it is time for those of us who have been calling on these brave men and women to serve again and again to assist in providing a meaningful chance for a first-class future," Webb said in having the bill passed. "This is about taking care of the people who have taken care of us."

And it does, providing service members who return from Iraq or Afghanistan up to 36 months of education benefits, including stipends for housing and books. Our World War II veterans came home to such benefits and today's veterans should as well. Currently benefits cover far less than the total cost of those who choose to seek a college education after leaving the military.

But problems loom.

This measure, which should be passed without hesitation, has been hindered by the ongoing problem in Washington ? political posturing. Though it will surely pass in the House, its support might not prove to be above a presidential veto if members there choose to attach other issues to the bill. The original House bill attached foreign aid and a tax increase to it. That led some Republicans, such as 5th District Congressman Virgil Goode, who said they otherwise would have supported the bill, to oppose it. The Senate bill didn't include such measures and will now be taken up again by the House. House members should leave it free of these and any other items not associated with the measure.

Our veterans deserve it