In a letter sent last Thursday, a group of 56 Republican House members signed onto a letter blasting Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough over the VA’s claims that the House bill to increase the debt ceiling and cut spending would slash benefits to veterans, the Hill reported.
The letter, written by Virginia Republican Jen Kiggans, a Navy veteran, called Secretary McDonough’s claims “dishonest and shameless.”
In a press release in late April, Veterans Affairs warned that the bill, which returns to FY2022 spending levels, would cut jobs at the VA, leading to longer wait times and reduced access to telehealth. In a recent Senate hearing, Secretary McDonough claimed that the House bill could reduce outpatient visits by 30 million, resulting in fewer cancer and mental health screenings and treatment for substance abuse disorders.
The claims enraged Republican lawmakers who have maintained that there would be no cuts in funding for veterans.
In the letter, the lawmakers write that the purpose of the “Limit, Save, Grow Act” is “to set a topline number for the entire federal budget.” They argued that Republican House leaders “stated unequivocally” that the VA would be funded and funding for veterans would be protected.
Accusing the VA of “political games,” the lawmakers said many in Congress have become “deeply troubled and personally offended” by the Biden administration’s continual use of “dishonest talking points” designed to “create panic and fear” among veterans.
The Republican House bill would increase the debt ceiling by $1.5 trillion while cutting spending. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the spending cuts would reduce the federal deficit by around $4.8 trillion over the next ten years.
The House bill, which passed late last month, would cap discretionary spending at FY2022 levels while limiting spending by 1 percent for each year moving forward.
The “Limit, Save, Grow Act” does not include any cuts in defense spending or veterans benefits.
In a Thursday fact-check, the Washington Post said the Biden administration “conjured up” the cuts in veterans benefits.