HomeUSAAfter Failing to Overturn VA Abortion, LGBTQ+ Policies, House Republicans Try Again...

After Failing to Overturn VA Abortion, LGBTQ+ Policies, House Republicans Try Again with Must-Pass Bill

Published on

Weekly Newsletter

To be updated with all the latest news, offers and special announcements.

House Republicans were unsuccessful last year in attempting to use the annual Department of Veterans Affairs spending bill to overturn a raft of policies they disagree with, such as on abortion and transgender health care, but they are trying again this year.

In its first draft of the must-pass fiscal 2025 VA and military construction appropriations bill released Monday night, the GOP-led House Appropriations Committee revived provisions that would ban the VA from providing abortions in most cases, bar gender affirmation care and implicitly ban flying the LGBTQ+ pride flag at VA facilities.

It’s unclear whether Republicans can be any more successful this year than last, with the Senate and White House still controlled by Democrats. But kicking off the fiscal 2025 appropriations process with controversial policy riders sets the stage for a replay of the political showdown that caused fiscal 2024 funding to be approved nearly six months late.

Read Next: Documents Show $43.5 Million in PACT Act Bonuses Plus Pay Raises for VA Human Resources Staff

The funding levels in the bill released Monday hew closely to the Biden administration’s budget request. Both the administration’s request and the bill also follow the budget caps that Congress agreed to last year in exchange for preventing a U.S. debt default.

For the VA, the bill would provide $129 billion in discretionary funding for fiscal 2025. That includes $113 billion for medical care, which matches the administration’s budget request and is $6 billion less than what the VA got for medical care this year.

On the military construction side of the bill, the legislation would allocate nearly $18 billion for Pentagon construction projects. That includes $1.1 billion to design and build new barracks, a total that matches what the administration requested but which shifts $75 million toward the design phase in order to “address barracks deficiencies identified by the Government Accountability Office,” according to a Republican summary.

It’s the policy riders that are sure to garner the most debate as the bill works its way through Congress.

Touting the policy riders, the Republican summary says the bill “supports American values and principles” and “focuses the executive branch on its core responsibilities.”

“It’s of national importance to care for those who selflessly served our nation, support our military families, and strengthen America’s defense,” House Appropriations Committee Chairman Tom Cole, R-Okla., said in a statement. “This FY25 bill meets those obligations. It fully funds veteran health care and benefits and works to enhance the quality of life of our troops and their loved ones.”

Democrats, meanwhile, blasted the bill as “harmful.”

“With the introduction of this first 2025 funding bill, House Republicans have shown us they plan to follow the same misguided, chaotic, and harmful process they pursued last year,” House Appropriations Committee ranking member Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., said in a statement. “By filling this bill with harmful policy changes, it is clear they are once again more focused on rolling back women’s rights and catering to the most extreme members of their party than actually helping our veterans.”

Lawmakers were already expecting to need to pass a stopgap bill when the fiscal year ends Sept. 30 to keep the government funded at least through November’s elections. But the partisan fights could make it difficult to reach an agreement on government funding even once the elections are over, and if Republicans retake the Senate or the White House, it could incentivize them to hold out on a deal until after the new year.

On abortion, the bill would reverse the VA’s existing policy and require the department to follow the Hyde Amendment, which bars most federal funding from going toward abortions except in cases were the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest or the life of the mother is at risk. The VA will provide abortions in those three circumstances, as well as if the health of the mother is endangered, a loosely defined condition that Republicans charge allows the VA to provide abortions in almost any case.

The bill would also ban the VA from covering hormone therapy and surgery for transgender veterans. While the VA currently covers hormone therapy, its stated intention of eventually providing gender affirmation surgery has been stalled for years.

While the bill would not directly ban the pride flag, it would stipulate that only U.S., state, VA, military or POW/MIA flags are allowed to fly over VA facilities, effectively barring the pride flag.

Also resurrected is a provision that would prohibit “any discriminatory action” from being taken against someone whose religious or moral beliefs are “that marriage is, or should be recognized as, a union of one man and one woman.”

This year’s bill also includes a policy rider that was not included in last year’s House draft, one based on misinformation that took hold in conservative circles this year that the VA was paying for health care for undocumented immigrants detained at the border. The bill would prohibit VA funding from being “used to provide any services to any individual unlawfully present in the United States who is not eligible for health care” from the VA, according to the text of the legislation.

In reality, since 2002, the VA’s Financial Services Center has been processing medical claims on behalf of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement office that is responsible for providing health care for detained migrants. ICE funding, not VA funding, pays for the work.

The bill would also renew a policy provision that became law last year that blocks the VA from reporting veterans who are found mentally incapable of managing their own finances to the FBI’s gun background check database without first getting a judge’s consent.

The House Appropriations Committee’s VA and military construction subcommittee is scheduled to debate the bill Tuesday evening. The full committee is expected to take it up Thursday.

Related: Veterans’ Gun Rights Amendment Included in Compromise Must-Pass VA Spending Bill

Story Continues

Read the full article here

Latest articles

Demonization Of Animal Products Begins: Milk Isn’t Safe From Bird Flu

The “experts” originally claimed that the bird flu would not be able to survive...

Hunter’s Best Hope Might Just Be Clarence Thomas

Hunter Biden is a convicted felon.I don't mind repeating that mostly because so many...

Hero Pilot Dies Protecting Black Ops Team

Watch full video on YouTube

Federal Courts Remain Divided on Law Biden Is Convicted of Violating

Here’s one for the amateur legal eagles among our pro-gun camp, but as most...

More like this