Week in Review

As Memorial Day weekend approached, the Senate expanded education benefits for veterans. Before lawmakers headed home, Congress also enacted a new five-year farm bill, and debate heated up over climate change and Pentagon spending. Also on Capitol Hill, Sanders brought together farm workers and a fast-food giant that agreed to better wages for tomato harvesters in what one of the nation's leading progressive voices called "a sweet victory for social justice."

As Memorial Day weekend approached, the Senate expanded education benefits for veterans. Before lawmakers headed home, Congress also enacted a new five-year farm bill, and debate heated up over climate change and Pentagon spending. Also on Capitol Hill, Sanders brought together farm workers and a fast-food giant that agreed to better wages for tomato harvesters in what one of the nation's leading progressive voices called "a sweet victory for social justice."

GI Bill A member of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, Sanders cosponsored the new GI Bill that would provide expanded education benefits for a new generation of veterans. The legislation would guarantee a full scholarship to any public, in-state university for veterans who served three years in the military, including activated National Guard troops and reservists. The expanded benefits also could be used for students at private colleges and for graduate schools. Unlike the GI benefits that transformed American society after World War II, veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have discovered that current GI benefits cover only half the national average cost for tuition, room and board. To read more, click here.

War in Iraq The Senate passed, over Sanders opposition, $165 billion for emergency war spending in Iraq and Afghanistan. The House put off a vote until after Memorial Day. Sanders cosponsored legislation to bring troops home as soon as possible - a position shared by an overwhelming majority in our online survey. As of late Friday, more than 81 percent of you opposed continuing the war. More than 85 percent didn't like how President Bush was handling the war. Even more, 94 percent, thought Congress was doing a bad job. To take the poll and see the full results, click here.

The Military Industrial Complex "At a time when this country has a $9.3 trillion national debt, a declining economy, and enormous unmet needs, the time is long overdue for Congress to stop rubber-stamping White House requests for military spending and to address the Pentagon's needs within the context of our overall national priorities," Sanders wrote in an op-ed published by the Boston Globe that evoked President Eisenhower's warnings about a military-industrial complex. To read the column, click here.

Global Warming In a showdown with the Bush administration, a Senate committee voted 10-9 Wednesday to approve a bill granting California, Vermont and 13 other states the authority to enact a stringent tailpipe emissions standard. The bill would overturn the Environmental Protection Agency's decision in December denying California the waiver it sought to adopt limits on greenhouse gas emissions. All but one of the Democrats on the panel voted for the bill, as did Sanders. Earlier in the week, another Senate panel examined the economics of global warming. That hearing, according to Grist, "was largely devoted to stoking fears about the potential costs of meaningful action." "The high point was Sanders, who berated the hearing for not including anyone who could testify to the consequences of inaction, or the potential for growth that action creates by improving efficiency and pushing new technologies to market."

Farm Bill Capping months of effort by the Vermont congressional delegation, the basic safety net for dairy farmers became law. The Senate joined House of Representatives in overriding President Bush's veto of a new five-year farm bill. "At a time when family farmers are struggling, and the cost of grain and fuel is soaring, this is not only a step forward for family farmers in Vermont and around this country, but a huge step forward for nutrition and addressing the growing hunger problems in America," said Sanders. Senators Sanders and Leahy and Rep. Welch toasted the victory with champagne glasses of milk. To read more, click here.

Farm Workers Burger King and a farm workers organization reached agreement to boost wages and improve conditions for Florida tomato pickers. The fast-food giant joins McDonald's and Taco Bell owner Yum Brands, which already have similar deals with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. Even worse than low pay and harsh working conditions, the coalition has helped expose instances of slavery in southern Florida. Slavery! In 2008! That's what Sanders said drew a senator to Vermont, the first state in the nation to outlaw slavery, to the farm workers' plight. He hosted a Capitol press conference to announce the that Burger King and the farm workers' group reached the agreement that The Nation editor Katrina vanden Heuvel called "a sweet victory for social justice." To read more about the agreement, click here. To read editorial in The Nation, click here.