On Thursday, the chamber advanced a $320 billion funding measure for the Department of Veterans Affairs for fiscal 2024, which would give the agency its largest budget ever. The final 219-211 vote was along party lines, with only Republicans backing the plan.
The cost of the spending plan matches what White House officials requested earlier this year and has not been a sticking point in negotiations.
Rather, Democrats objected to amendments included in the bill which would
- bar VA officials from providing any abortion services,
- severely limit health care options for transgender veterans, and
- bar department facilities from displaying the LGBT pride flag at any time.
On Monday, the White House issued a veto threat on the appropriations bill, the first to be voted on by the House this year. Officials cited the “partisan policy provisions with devastating consequences” included in the measure as the reason for the president’s opposition.
But the threat only served to embolden House Republicans, who added several other amendments opposed by Democrats ahead of final passage.
They included provisions
- barring VA leaders from changing the department’s motto to gender-neutral language;
- eliminating the department’s Office of Resolution Management, Diversity and Inclusion;
- loosening gun ownership restrictions for veterans found incapable of managing their estates; and
- prohibiting VA from enforcing any COVID-19 mask mandates.
Republican lawmakers said the moves are needed to rein in partisan policies put in place under the current administration. They also praised the overall package as critical to fulfilling the nation’s promise to its former military members.
“This bill makes good on that promise by fully funding veterans health care while ensuring our veterans get the medical treatment and benefits they deserve,” said Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas and chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee.
“The bill also prohibits funding to be used for biased and controversial programs.” . . . (read more on Military Times)