Congressman Andy Harris' Response to Coverage of Veterans Affairs Funding

Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md., speaks at a news conference outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington.
Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md., speaks at a news conference outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, June 28, 2012. (Cliff Owen/AP Photo)

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Recently, an article appeared on titled, House Republican Threatens to Cut VA Budget over Agency's Warnings About Budget Cuts. This article used a fraction of my statement on a press call to manufacture a headline that is misleading. I would like to publicly voice my concerns regarding the inaccuracies of this article and my position on supporting our veterans.

To begin, as a Navy Reserve veteran and physician who cared for veterans in a Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital, I sit on the Appropriations Committee and have been in numerous meetings to discuss what fiscal measures we can take in order to save our American economy. Never once in those meetings have cuts to veterans' health care or benefits ever been discussed. In fact, those were my first remarks on the press call this article was written about but, ironically, those remarks during the call were not included in the article.

Secondly, I made it clear on the press call that I believe it to be a violation of the Antideficiency Act for the VA secretary, Agriculture secretary or any government agency to politicize their communications offices and, in the case of the VA, mislead our veterans regarding imaginary cuts to their benefits. Every appropriations bill contains a clause stating that government agencies are prohibited from using taxpayer dollars for political purposes and, if the VA communications office is being weaponized to do that, I called for Congress to look into it. Notably, this is not a call for a unilateral cut to the VA budget as the title of the article suggests.

Additionally, ever since the debt ceiling negotiations began, Republicans have been clear that we will cut wasteful government spending while fully funding and supporting our veterans. Veterans have always been and will continue to be prioritized in spending negotiations to ensure that the men and women who served our country have access to the care, benefits and services they earned.

Finally, as a publication that has a large presence of military and veteran readers, it is important to independently verify remarks to avoid hearsay and rumors. As a matter of public record, House Republicans have made clear we will not cut veteran spending and will continue to fight for the patriotic men and women who have served our great nation in uniform. This was the theme of the press call, and any reporting to the contrary misrepresents my continued support for fully funding and caring for our veterans both in my District and across the country.

-- Congressman Andy Harris has represented Maryland's 1st Congressional District since 2011.

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