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Funding for veterans has become one of the most hotly debated issues in the debt discussion.
The White House tweeted about Republican cuts to veterans, prompting Senator Tom Cotton (R -Ark.), a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) echoed Bost’s claims at a hearing on Thursday, accusing Democrats of “lying.” Rep. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) countered that House Republicans had voted down a Democratic amendment that would have explicitly exempted veterans.
The GOP could also face opposition from within itself .To achieve their goals without affecting veterans, House Republicans must find other cuts supported by nearly the entire caucus. Opposition by five or more members would doom the legislation.
The situation is particularly volatile as some Republicans oppose cuts to some programs that could be targeted — such as programs in their districts — while others favor even deeper cuts.
More than 20 veterans groups have signed a letter opposing the Republican plan.
America’s largest veterans organization said they would not accept a position on the legislation to avoid partisanship. But representatives of some of these groups said that while they believed Republican leaders sincerely wanted to protect veterans, they understood it would be difficult for such a divided body to make assurances.
“Mike Bo Steer and leaders may not want to cut veterans, but they may have to acquiesce to one or two or three or more members to get it done,” said Patrick Murray, director of the National Veterans of Foreign Wars Legislative Service, referring to What is needed is to raise the debt ceiling while reducing spending.
While other large veterans groups declined to comment on the record, representatives highlighted possible cuts to programs they deem worthwhile, which some lawmakers have declared unnecessary or wasteful.
“We hear people saying they’re not going to cut spending, but then we hear people saying they’re going to cut wasteful spending,” Murray said. “Well, that’s subjective.”
Veteran’s organizations are also concerned about the possible repeal of the landmark and costly Respect Our PACT Act, which provides protection for veterans exposed to toxic substances overseas Provide care and remedies. The law didn’t take effect until this year.
Republican lawmakers insist they can make the numbers work to uphold the law.
But the House passed the debt — and as House Appropriations Committee Democratic leader Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut pointed out, the cap measure does clearly establish a substantial reduce. The Republican bill eliminates any unspent funds passed in the covid-19 relief bill, including veterans funds. When Bost wrote to the VA in late March asking about unspent covid funding, his office estimated that roughly $4.5 billion was up for grabs.
DeLauro, apparently using updated numbers in his denunciation of the GOP bill, said the revocation would be closer to $2 billion.
Boster’s office stood its ground, suggesting that the money, once reversed, could be redirected to a different veterans program, but noted that it would be up to the appropriators.
Boster claims Republicans are not cutting spending on veterans’ benefits, even though the text of their bill to raise the national debt ceiling would reduce all discretionary spending.
Drafting a lean budget that provides benefits to veterans is no easy task. Most notably, veterans represent one of the largest pies in terms of discretionary spending, and the Limit, Save, Grow Act that passed the House contained no language specifically protecting it.
House GOP plan does include specific budget rollbacks for unspent covid relief funds. That’s the equivalent of $2 billion from the Department of Veterans Affairs. While Congress could restore that money in the future — and it’s a relatively small percentage of the VA budget — as proposed, it would lead to lower spending for veterans.
House Republicans like Bost have repeatedly said they intend to protect the key district. But so far, that protection isn’t apparent on paper.
We rated Bost’s statement as “Mostly False”.
Speaker Kevin McCarthy NYSE Speech April 17, 2023
House Appropriations Chair Kay Granger on Constraints, Savings, Growth Statement of Bill, April 26, 2023
“Putting Limits, Savings, Growth Act into Context”, Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, April 25, 2023
Letter from Veterans Affairs Secretary Dennis McDonough to House Democrats, March 21, 2023
Statement from Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) on Veterans Spending, 2023 April 26, 2021
Default Revocation Analysis On America Bill, House Appropriations Committee Estimates of Veteran Cuts
American Rescue Plan Act, March 11, 2021 (Veteran Appropriations on p. 110)
Limit, Save, Grow Act, sponsored by Rep. Jodey C. Arrington (R-Texas), focused on April 26, 2023 Date
MAX Information and Reports (Executive, Legislative, and Judicial Users): FY 2023 – SF 133 Budget Execution and Budget Resources Report, April 20, 2023
“How much is the U.S. government spending this year?” U.S. Department of the Treasury, accessed May 1, 2023
“Discretionary Spending for Fiscal Year 2022: Infographic,” Congressional Budget Office, 2023 Mar. 28
Veterans Service Organizations to Members of Congress, Apr. 25, 2023
“Many Dissatisfied with Government’s Spending Priorities,” AP -NORC Poll March 29, 2023
“House Republicans’ pledge to cut funding programs to 2022 levels will have serious implications, especially for non-defense programs,” Budget and Center for Policy Priorities, March 25, 2023
“VFW Inquires Speaker House’s Commitment to PACT Act” (Letter), April 25, 2023
Background email discussion with Office of Rep. Mike Boster (R-Ill.), April 28, 2023
Email exchange with House Appropriations Committee Democratic staff, 2023 April 28, 2023
Telephone interview with Patrick Murray, National Legislative Service Director, Veterans of Foreign Wars, April 28, 2023
Rep. Mike Boss Te (R-Ill.), C-SPAN House Speech on Veterans Program, April 26, 2023