Two weeks ago, House Republicans delivered a roadmap to the Senate on how to address our nation’s $31 trillion in debt while responsibly raising the debt ceiling. H.R. 2811, the Limit, Save, Grow Act of 2023, achieves the largest savings of any bill in history while protecting critical programs Americans rely on. Nowhere in this bill is cutting veterans’ care, benefits, or services mentioned. Don’t believe anyone that tells you that will be the case.
An op-ed from three House Democrats that ran in Military Times claims that the Limit, Save, Grow Act would slash $30 billion from veterans spending. It seems their math came from applying the rough percentage of the budget cuts the GOP believes is fiscally responsible – lopping about 22% off a bloated federal budget proposed by the Biden administration – and they are claiming that means the GOP is pushing to cut 22% of funding to veterans.
Republicans believe there’s plenty of overspending in the budget, but have vowed to keep defense and veterans spending adequately funded. Regardless of our veteran status – one of us is a veteran and one of us is not – our commitment to the men and women who have served will never waver.
Our Democratic counterparts are misrepresenting that, fear-mongering to make up for their lack of viable solutions to our soaring national debt. By outrageously accusing House Republicans of cutting funding for veterans, they have proven they are willing to play dangerous political games at the risk of a U.S. default on our debts.
The VA’s budget has increased from $50 billion in 2002 to more than $300 billion in 2023. That’s 500 percent over the past two decades. This suggests the problem is not one of funding but rather one of administration. The GOP has always prioritized veterans in budget negotiations – but this administration, especially the VA Secretary, seems to be laser-focused on the bureaucracy rather than the veterans it serves. This needs to change.
Instead of debating how much funding the VA gets, we need to discuss how the VA is spending its funding and whether or not those funds are actually helping veterans.
House Republicans passed a debt ceiling solution that puts spending at the FY22 level, which both President Biden and then-Speaker Pelosi signed off on, that was in place just four months ago – all while protecting the VA. Those who are spreading lies about Republicans’ solution now are the same people who claimed that inflation would be transitory, there is no crisis at our southern border, their botched Afghanistan withdrawal was a success, and China’s invasion of our airspace was just a weather balloon.
Veterans are not political pawns, and under our Republican leadership, they never will be. Their healthcare will never be compromised, and if anything, we will work to improve its delivery by expanding access to it. Veterans’ earned benefits will never be scrutinized – if anything, we will work to modernize the systems and processes by which they obtain them. House Republicans are building a modern VA that works for today’s veteran community, not defunding it. We hope Democrats and the VA Secretary will join us in that effort.
It’s time for Joe Biden to put his money where his mouth is and negotiate with Speaker McCarthy in good faith. No more lies and political games. The success of our country now and for generations to come depends on it. Republicans have always prioritized veterans in their budget negotiations, and this negotiation is no different, as long as President Biden holds up his end of the deal.
Rep. Mike Bost, R-Ill., is a Marine Corps veteran and serves as the Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., serves as the Majority Whip in the U.S. House of Representatives.