House Democrats Highlight How Republican Funding Bill Fails to Honor Our Commitment to Veterans

May 17, 2023
Press Release

WASHINGTON — During today’s House Appropriations Subcommittee markup of the 2024 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies, House Democrats highlighted how Republicans cannot claim to fully fund veterans’ programs with a bill that does not fully fund the Toxic Exposures Fund and underfunds military construction projects.

The legislation is an attempt to hide the fact that House Republicans already voted to immediately rescind $2 billion from funding for claims processing and appeals, health care both within and outside of VA, research, and education and training for veterans as part of the Default on America Act.

This bill:

  • Drastically underfunds by $14.7 billion the Toxic Exposures Fund, created with bipartisan support in the PACT Act to ensure veterans exposed to Agent Orange, burn pits, and other toxic substances will always be cared for.
  • Underfunds other veterans’ medical care needs by allowing the transfer of $4.5 billion in medical care funding to areas outside of health care.
  • Cuts funding for critical military construction. The bill backtracks on our promises to our servicemembers and their families by cutting military construction by over $1.3 billion compared to the current level.
  • Built on a framework that fails to treat veterans’ medical care as its own funding category, thereby jeopardizing veterans’ health care.

“While I have appreciated the work we’ve done together over the past few years, unfortunately, I cannot support this bill for a variety of reasons,” Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee Ranking Member Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL-23) said. “As part of the Republican’s Default on America bill they just passed, they included no protections for veterans funding, despite making promises their proposed cuts would not impact veterans. Verbal promises clearly mean nothing when they could have included these protections in law – ensuring veterans funding would not be subject to political funding battles – and they made the conscious choice not to do so. On top of that, Republicans voted to immediately rescind $2 billion for veterans for claims processing and appeals, healthcare both within and outside of VA, research, and education and training for veterans. The bill before us today continues the Republican’s disturbing trend that does not protect veterans. My friend, Chairman Carter was quoted in Punchbowl on Monday saying this FY24 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs bill is written to an imaginary topline – so clearly, the bill before us is nothing more than a messaging bill. And the message Republicans are sending to the American people is they are not interested in protecting veterans. In spite of the imaginary top line of this bill, it still underfunds our commitment to our veterans.”

Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz’s full remarks as prepared for delivery are here.

“With this funding level, Republicans not only turned their backs on their commitment to our veterans who have been exposed to toxins, it pits veterans against veterans, using them as pawns in Republicans’ gambit to slash other nondefense programs and priorities across the federal government that they know veterans, servicemembers, and their families rely on,” Appropriations Committee Ranking Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-03) said. “So do not tell me that Republicans are fully funding veterans’ programs. The larger Republican agenda does nothing to protect veterans from their proposed cuts. I cannot support this bill.”

Congresswoman DeLauro’s full remarks as prepared for delivery are here.

Key provisions of the bill can be found here. The text of the draft bill is here. Information on Community Project Funding in the bill is here.

118th Congress