October 26, 2023

Ranking Member Takano’s Statement on Dangerous Kennedy Amendment Passed in Senate Yesterday

Press Contact

Libby Carlson

WASHINGTON, DC -- House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Ranking Member Mark Takano (CA-39) released the following statement after the Senate passed Senator John Kennedy (R-LA)’s dangerous amendment that would inhibit VA's efforts to protect the most vulnerable veterans and beneficiaries from harm: 

“Over the summer our Committee held a hearing as Committee Republicans tried to ram through the highly-flawed Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act. Committee Democrats had major concerns about this legislation and effectively pushed back on its passage. Unfortunately, instead of following regular order and having a reasoned and nuanced debate on how to help the most vulnerable veterans, House Republicans instead tacked this issue onto a vital bill to fund veterans care and benefits. And sadly, the Senate followed suit yesterday. On a day when we once again saw the uniquely American gun violence epidemic claim more lives, Republicans chose to put more guns in the hands of at-risk people. This to me is unconscionable.   

This dangerous amendment perpetuates an incorrect theory among Republicans and veterans alike, that if they seek out mental health care at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), their guns will be taken away. This is simply not true. Under no circumstances does VA ever confiscate anyone’s firearms. However, the Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act and the Bost/Kennedy amendments make it more difficult to get the truth out there. 

What I have said and will continue to say, is that any change to a program or policy must be evidence-based and data driven. And in the case of VA’s Fiduciary Program, a program designed to protect the most vulnerable veterans from both financial and physical harm, we must be especially careful not to put more veterans at risk.  Democrats are more than willing to have a debate on the merits of this program under those parameters. But Republicans instead trotted out a highly charged, culture-war amendment, that precludes us from having a reasoned and nuanced debate. 

So we are very disappointed that Republicans have gone around the usual process for legislating and having a thoughtful debate in Committee. And instead, are trying to legislate through the appropriations process. We fear that this will result in more suicides among veterans, who are already more at risk for suicide than the general population.”