June 05, 2024

Ranking Member Takano: “Stop the Political Games and Let’s Get Serious About Helping Every Veteran”

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Libby Carlson -- 771-216-2280

WASHINGTON, DC – House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Ranking Member Mark Takano (CA-39) criticized the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs (MilCon/VA) appropriations bill on the House floor for being partisan and not meeting the goal of helping every veteran. 

The Ranking Member said: 

“I am disturbed House Republicans have included many of the same partisan riders in this year’s bill that were in this bill last year. These radical riders aim to restrict access to abortion and attack LGBTQ+ rights... attacks that are occurring during Pride month, no less.  

There is once again an amendment to this bill that will make it easier for the most vulnerable veterans to access guns and more difficult for VA to help them. The inclusion of this rider spreads the lie that if a veteran seeks mental healthcare at VA, their guns will be taken away. This could not be further from the truth: VA will not take away your guns. 

We want to encourage veterans to get the mental healthcare they have earned and very often need. This fearmongering could lead to more veterans not seeking life-saving assistance. Veterans have a higher rate of suicide than the general population, and they are more likely to use a gun. Knowing this, how could we in good conscience vote for this bill, with the risks it poses to veterans?  

There is another harmful amendment that would lead to greater privatization of veterans’ healthcare. Specifically, it would require VA to apply new access standards for non-VA care. As written, this amendment will cost VA billions of dollars per year to implement and result in tens of thousands of veterans being sent to private providers for lower-quality, higher-cost care than they would otherwise receive at VA. This is a significant policy change that has not been considered by the Veterans’ Affairs Committee.   

Republicans are attaching it to this appropriations bill because they know it could never pass as a standalone bill. The appropriations process should not be used to legislate such a sweeping change. This is deeply concerning to me and should give every Member voting in this chamber great pause.   

Poison pill riders have turned what should be a non-partisan issue of helping our veterans into a political game.  

Stop the political games and let’s get serious about helping every veteran. Until then, I cannot support this bill in good faith.” 

The Veterans Crisis Line is available 24/7 to any veteran experiencing a mental health crisis. Dial 988 and press 1 to speak with a trained professional, text 838255, or visit VeteransCrisisLine.net/chat.