According to Republicans, they are looking out for veterans …
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) May 16, 2015
And Monday, they took action
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) May 18, 2015
Ahead of Memorial Day, the House brought six bills to the floor to better serve our nation’s veterans, building on our promise to ensure our veterans receive the care they deserve in return for all they have sacrificed. The House remains committed and united in our efforts to better serve our veterans here at home.
Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Programs Reauthorization Act (HR 474) passed by a voice vote
Ensuring VA Employee Accountability Act (H.R. 1038) passed by a voice vote
Veteran’s I.D. Card Act (H.R. 91) approved 402 – 0 (Roll no. 240).
Vulnerable Veterans Housing Reform Act (H.R 1816) passed by a voice vote
Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business Relief Act (HR 1313) approved 403 – 0 (Roll no. 241).
BRAVE Act (Boosting Rates of American Veteran Employment Act) (HR 1382) approved 404 – 0 (Roll no. 242).
Yep, no one objected to any of these bills … in fact, some did not even go through committee … just straight for a “We support veterans” show-vote.
See, it is when things go into committee — where money is really spent — that causes problems for Republicans … and exposes their agenda.
As John Kline likes to say, the House needs to “demonstrate a serious, contemplative approach to government spending” that delivers “a realistic balanced budget that reflects the needs of the American people“.
Deciphering Kline-speak, that translates “cut critical domestic programs” — essentially requiring them to bear the whole brunt of deficit reduction.
Take for example, May 13th when the House Appropriations Committee held a markup on the fiscal year (FY) 2016 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations bill. The legislation provides an increase of only $25 million above current levels.
David Price (D-NC-04) had called the allocation “totally inadequate” and the budget constraints self-inflicted. He placed particular emphasis on the importance of fully funding housing and transportation capital needs, noting that funding for the Public Housing Capital Fund resembles 1989 levels. Representative Price said. “We can’t just wring our hands and say we’re broke…we’re not broke.”
The proposed budget does not provide any FY16 funding for Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) vouchers nor for any vouchers to restore the remaining 67,000 vouchers lost due to the 2013 sequester cuts. The bill does not increase funding for voucher administrative fees, as HUD requested, but flat funds voucher administrative fees.
In an effort to address this, the House Appropriations Committee considered an amendment proposed by Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (D-OH-09) to provide housing support for at least 22,500 of our nation’s estimated 49,900 homeless veterans.
“Tens of thousands of our nation’s veterans, men and women who have served our country bravely and selflessly, are homeless,” said Representative Kaptur. “At this very moment a homeless veteran is preparing to sleep in a doorway, under a bridge, or in a car. And that veteran is one of thousands. This is inexcusable. We are failing in our basic responsibility to support our veterans. My amendment would have stitched closed one of the biggest holes in our safety net for veterans. Thanks to partisan opposition, that hole remains open and thousands of veterans will be left out in the cold tonight.”
Representative Kaptur noted that the transportation and housing budget proposed by Republicans includes major cuts to federal housing programs that support some of our poorest and most vulnerable Americans. In total, the proposed bill provides roughly 100,000 fewer housing vouchers than the President’s proposed budget. Rental assistance currently supports an estimated 340,000 veterans.
Representative Kaptur’s amendment failed by a roll call vote 29-21 as no Republican supported it.
And it isn’t just ignoring the homeless veterans issue, voters need to be aware of some of the other cuts which are being pushed to satisfy John Kline’s “realistic balanced budget that reflects the needs of the American people“.
— The Section 202 supportive housing for the elderly program is cut from $436 million in FY15 to $414 million for FY16. The Section 202 program’s project rental assistance contract renewal costs would be underfunded by $44 million, which also does not provide for the production of new Section 202 units.
— The bill would fund the HOME program at $767 million for FY16, compared to its FY15 funding level of $900 million.The HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME) provides formula grants to States and localities that communities use – often in partnership with local nonprofit groups – to fund a wide range of activities including building, buying, and/or rehabilitating affordable housing for rent or homeownership or providing direct rental assistance to low-income people. HOME is the largest Federal block grant to state and local governments designed exclusively to create affordable housing for low-income households.
— The bill would significantly cut funding for HUD’s Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes, from the FY15 level of $110 million to $75 million in FY16.
— The bill would cut the public housing capital fund by $200 million.