July 18, 2018

Ranking Members Walz, Wasserman Schultz Respond To Republican Effort To Undermine VA Healthcare Through Budget Process

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Ranking Member Tim Walz (D-MN), alongside House Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies (MCVA) Appropriations Subcommittee Ranking Member Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), released the following statement in response to a letter sent by Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi (R-WY) and House Budget Committee Chairman Steve Womack (AR-03) to the members of the conference committee for H.R. 5895, the Energy and Water, Legislative Branch and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act. In the letter, the Chairmen urged conferees to prioritize funding for the programs authorized in the VA MISSION Act within existing spending limits, a measure that would force VA to cannibalize itself as a means to pay for private sector care. The Chairmen’s letter echoes a Trump Administration letter sent to Congress the previous day.

“Budgets are more than just fiscal documents, they are a reflection of our values,” said House Committee on Veterans Affairs Ranking Member Tim Walz. “That’s why I am disappointed in the Trump Administration and Republicans in Congress who would rather force VA to cut funding for key programs veterans rely on, such as those investing in direct patient care, suicide prevention, medical research, and more, in order to pay for private care. No matter how you try to sell it, this is what VA privatization looks like. Veterans deserve an Administration and a Congress who are willing to invest in veterans' care and VA's successful future, that is why funding for the VA Mission Act must come from new spending outside of VA.”

“The Trump Administration and Republicans in Congress are shamelessly using our veterans as political pawns to push their privatization schemes and paint over their value-stunted budgeting priorities,” said House Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee Ranking Member Debbie Wasserman Schultz. “Democrats warned Republicans that the current budget caps could not support the costs associated with the VA Mission Act becoming a discretionary program, and it will ultimately force the VA to cannibalize vital research, suicide prevention and other basic health programs that millions of veterans count on. Instead of making the necessary fixes, Trump and Republicans have chosen to push towards privatization, while leaving veterans vulnerable in a budgetary squeeze. Those who served our country deserve stable, high quality health care. They should not be held hostage to this Republican scheme to force a backdoor privatization of the VA.”