Pentagon & Congress

Former House Veterans' Affairs chairman returns to DC as lobbyist

WASHINGTON — Jeff Miller has only been gone from politics for four months. They’ve just been a very eventful four months.

Since the eight-term congressman and former House Veterans' Affairs Committee chairman stepped away from Congress last year, Capitol Hill has welcomed a new president, a new Veterans Affairs secretary, 13 new members to his old committee and a host of new promises on military and veterans issues.

Now Miller — who was among the names under consideration for that VA secretary post — is returning to town as a senior adviser for McDermott Will & Emery, working with firm lobbyists untangling those changes.

But from his home in Florida, he hasn’t been surprised by the changes in Washington.

"I think President Trump is doing exactly what he promised," said Miller, who worked on Trump’s presidential campaign as an adviser. "He has a plan, he is moving in that direction, and he’s going to follow that. So none of what I’ve seen has been surprising to me."

That plan includes promises of significant reforms to VA programs and a build up of the U.S. military. Miller, who also served on the House Armed Services Committee, said he is encouraged by the outline thus far.

"It’s still going to be a battle with liberals to recapitalize the military’s depleted infrastructure," said Miller, who represented Florida as a Republican. "But there have been positive steps. And on the VA health care side, I’ve seen a lot of positive things already."

Miller joins former Virginia Rep. Jim Moran at the lobbying firm. Federal rules prohibit him from lobbying Hill lawmakers until early 2018, but not executive branch officials or other private sector firms.

He said he’s anxious to get back into crafting policy, albeit in a much different role than his previous job. And he isn’t worried that too much has happened in his short stint away to get back into the mix.

"This kind of (reaction) happens every time there’s a change in administrations," he said. "It’s still the same processes."

 
Leo Shane III covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He can be reached at lshane@militarytimes.com.

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