GOP House Budget Rejects Amendment To Restore VA Funding

The 114th Congress gaveled into session with 58 new Members — 43 Republicans and 15 Democrats — all with the idea of representing their constituents.

Sadly, thus far, we have seen that some believe their constituents are their respective Party Managers … be it, Corporate Republican, TaxedEnoughAlready Conservative or Democrat.

For the Republicans, the Party Managers control Members through committee assignments … and the Budget Committee is one in which Members can actually decide whether to buck Party Manager’s instructions.

This year’s Budget Committee mark-up of House Continuing Resolution 27 … featured Speaker Boehner and Chairman Tom Price doing a little dance around the Members over Defense spending.

House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday directed the House Rules Committee to add another $2 billion to the $36 billion increase originally proposed for the war funding account, and delete language in the House budget that would require alternate savings.
“There is overwhelming support in our conference for providing additional resources to protect our national security,” Republican House Speaker John Boehner as the House Budget Committee advanced its plan to cut $5.5 trillion in spending over 10 years.

Representative Justin Amash (R-MI-03) told Reuters that he could not support a budget with defense increases that are not paid for.
About 70 House Republicans have pledged to vote against a budget that fails to match Obama’s request for a $561 billion core defense budget and $51 billion in off-budget war funding.

OK … so, Corporate Washington wants to cut spending but increase spending for the military industrial complex.
But what about the veterans ?

Well, if you watched the Budget Committee hearing, you had to be impressed by Representative Seth Molten (D-MA-06) who spoke about his military brethren who had been failed by the VA.
Moulton, you may recall, is the guy whose heroism in combat during four tours in Iraq, was exposed by The Boston Globe because he didn’t feel it was proper to parade it around himself, but felt he had to speak out on the Republican budget.

Upon reviewing the budget, Moulton vowed to try to find common ground with Republicans, but said he would not stray from his commitment to working families.

The Republican House Budget fails to set our nation on the right path towards economic growth,” said Moulton. “When I took this office, I vowed to work in a bipartisan fashion and I’m committed to doing that. However, this budget fails to grow our economy and it deprives hard working families of the resources and support they need to succeed.

“Protecting our veterans is not an option, it is our duty,” said Moulton “We owe to past and present service members to provide them with quality health care, education and job training, and long-term treatment they have earned through their service to our nation.”
Representative Moulton offered an amendment that would restore funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs to the President’s requested level of $1.9 billion for FY16 and ensure that the services provided to our veterans will never be at risk in the event of a government shutdown.

The amendment was paid for and pretty straightforward :

Providing access to quality health care and veterans’ benefits has been an ongoing challenge for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), highlighted most recently by the revelation that thousands of veterans were waiting months for health care appointments. Providing funding at the President’s requested levels is vital to ensuring that the VA makes progress in redressing these problems.
The government shutdown in 2013 led to furloughs at the VBA, which resulted in further delays in the processing of claims for benefits. Extending advance appropriations to all of VA’s discretionary activities will prevent such delays and help ensure those who have served the nation receive prompt access to the federal benefits and services that they have earned.

The Republican response was equally straightforward :

As Congress continues to operate under discretionary spending caps pursuant to the Budget Control Act of 2011, all agency budget submissions should receive congressional scrutiny to ensure that every taxpayer dollar requested is thoroughly justified and used effectively and efficiently. Exposing funds to mismanagement is not an option during times of fiscal restraint. Moreover, continuing to throw more money at a dysfunctional agency that refuses to be transparent and accountable, without significant reforms, is a disservice to all veterans who should be America’s top priority.

While the Veterans Affairs Committee supported the President’s request, the House Budget Committee voted against Representative Mouton’s amendment by a roll call vote of 14 ayes to 22 noes

Veterans need to know who stood with them :
Chris Van Hollen (D-MD-08),
John Yarmuth (D-KY-03)
Bill Pascrell (D-NJ-09)
Tim Ryan (D-OH-17)
Gwen Moore (D-WI-04)
Kathy Castor (D-FL-11)
Jim McDermott (D-WA-07)
Barbara Lee (D-CA-13)
Mark Pocan (D-WI-02)
Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM-01)
Debbie Dingell (D-MI-12)
Ted Lieu (CA-33)
Donald Norcross (NJ-01)

And, veterans need to know who said NO :

Tom Price (R-GA-06), Chairman
Todd Rokita (R-IN-04), Vice-Chairman)
Scott Garrett (R-NJ-05)
Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL-25)
Tom Cole (R-OK-04)
Tom McClintock (R-CA-04)
Diane Black (R-TN-06)
Rob Woodall (R-GA-07)
Marsha Blackburn (R-TN-07)
Vicky Hartzler (R-MO-04)
Tom Rice (R-SC-07)
Marlin Stutzman (R-IN-03)
Mark Sanford (R-SC-01)
Steve Womack (R-AR-03)
Dave Brat (R-VA-07)
Rod Blum (R-IA-01)
Alex Mooney (R-WV-02)
Glenn Grothman (R-WI-06)
Gary Palmer (R-AL-06)
John Moolenaar (R-MI-04)
Bruce Westerman (R-AR-04)
Vern Buchanan (R-FL-16)

While the Republicans argue over whether it should be an increase of $36 or $38 BILLION for defense spending, there does not seem to be interest in protesting a cut to VA funding.


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