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House Democrats Vote to Kill Funding for Veterans Program That Expands Access to Care

Democrats, upset with how the bill was brought to the floor, used the critical issue as a “protest vote.”

House Democratic Leadership

Democrats in the House voted against granting $2 billion to a veterans program that would help former service members gain access to critical treatment.

The initiative, known as the Veterans Choice Program, allows veterans to seek care outside of the VA system if that is their choice. The program was instituted after a report disclosed that unauthorized wait lists and lengthy wait times at several VA hospitals led to at least 83 deaths.

The program will run out of money in August if Congress does not reauthorize funds. In 2014, a vast majority of these same Democrats voted in favor of funding the program, which received 420 “Yea” votes in the House. In 2015, 385 House members voted in favor of funding the program.

“This was a bipartisan agreement, and I’m disappointed the concerns raised on the House floor today were not mentioned during what I thought was an open and honest conversation,” Veterans Affairs Chairman Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN) said in a statement.

The bill could come up for another vote later this week, but Republican leadership will need to hurry: August recess is scheduled to begin at the end of this week.