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Senate takes up veterans bill that's tough for lawmakers to vote against in election year

It's hard to vote against veterans these days.

Two weeks after rolling back an effort to slow cost-of-living pension increases for working-age military retirees, the Senate is now being asked to give veterans a host of new programs costing $21 billion over the next decade.

Debate is scheduled to begin Tuesday on a bill addressing dozens of priorities that veterans have raised in recent years. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is counting on voters supporting more programs for veterans in an election year even though Republicans complain the bill as Democrats wrote it would swell federal deficits.

The bill would make more veterans eligible for VA health care, require public colleges to offer in-state tuition rates to all veterans and help seriously wounded veterans get fertility treatments.