Once again, the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee will begin its work this year with more new members than returning ones.
Thirteen of the 25 representatives on the panel — charged with crafting veterans policy legislation and overseeing issues related to the Department of Veterans Affairs — did not serve on the committee last session. Of that group, 11 are freshmen members of Congress.
Unlike high-profile House committees where only a few seats may open up each new session, high turnover on the veterans committee is common. In the last seven congressional sessions, the committee has replaced more than half of its members six times.
That has been a point of frustration for some advocates in the past, who say that much of their time at the start of each new session is spent educating staff on current challenges with VA and pending legislative proposals from the previous year.
This year, the switch of the House from Democratic to Republican control further exacerbated the issue. Under the agreement negotiated by party leaders on membership ratios, Republicans added one more seat on the committee while Democrats lost five.
In announcing this year’s members, both new committee chairman Mike Bost, R-Ill., and ranking member Mark Takano, D-Calif., praised the diversity and varied experience of the members. Takano has been on the panel for the last 10 years, while Bost has been on for eight.
“Veterans across the country are lucky to have these men and women from all walks of life fighting for them on Capitol Hill,” Bost said in a statement.
Ten of the committee members are veterans, including Bost, who served in the Marine Corps.
The new committee members are:
- Rep. Greg Murphy, R-N.C.;
- Rep. Scott Franklin, R-Pa.;
- Rep. Derrick Van Orden, R-Wisc.;
- Rep. Morgan Luttrell, R-Texas;
- Rep. Juan Ciscomani, R-Ariz.;
- Rep. Eli Crane, R-Ariz.;
- Rep. Keith Self, R-Texas;
- Rep. Jen Kiggans, R-Va.;
- Rep. Delia Ramirez, D-Ill.;
- Rep. Chris Deluzio, D-Pa.;
- Rep. Morgan McGarvey, D-Ky.;
- Rep. Greg Landsman, D-Ohio;
- Rep. Nikki Budzinski, D-Ill.;
The committee is expected to begin public hearings on policy priorities next month.
Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.