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Politics

Despite Opposition, Corrine Brown Back as Ranking Democrat on House VA Committee

November 19, 2014 - 6:00pm

U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Fla., will stay as the ranking Democrat on the House Committee of Veterans Affairs. With the support of U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Brown dispatched a challenge from U.S. Rep. Tim Waltz, D-Minn.

I am humbled and honored by the opportunity to serve as the ranking member of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs for the 114th Congress, and I wholeheartedly appreciate the support of my Democratic colleagues, Brown said after being selected on Wednesday. I am very much looking forward to serving our nations veterans in this new position and working to make sure these men and women get the care and benefits they earned through their service to our nation.

During the upcoming session, some of the key issues I plan to address in committee include fully implementing the Veterans Access, Care and Affordability Act, and ensuring that our nations brave, returning soldiers have all the resources they need to transition to civilian life, Brown added. I will also continue my advocacy to get all of the VA Medical Centers opened as soon as possible.

I look forward to working with our veteran stakeholders to ensure that the VA has the resources necessary to provide superior health care to our veterans, and in particular resources for our nations rapidly increasing population of women veterans, Brown said in conclusion, promising to work with her chairman, U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla. I also look forward to continuing to work with Chairman Miller and the rest of the committee in the upcoming 114th Congress. I am certain that the hard-working committee members will work hard to move meaningful legislation that will benefit our nations veterans.

Browns retention drew the fire of Concerned Veterans for America. Pete Hegseth, the CEO of Concerned Veterans for America, labeled Brown as an apologist for the status quo at the VA, and at worst totally detached from reality as the VA deals with the aftermath of reports of altered waiting lists at medical facilities across the nation. In Phoenix, at least 40 veterans who were impacted by altered waiting lists died while waiting for treatment.

Rep. Brown has consistently dismissed the pervasive problems at the VA in the face of overwhelming evidence of the departments cultural and structural issues, including asserting immediately after the VA scandal that were doing fine in Florida, when clinics in her district have some of the worst wait times in the nation, insisted Hegseth.

Hegseth insisted U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and the Republican leadership were handling veterans issues much better than Pelosi and the Democrats.

With the agency charged with caring for our nations veterans in total disarray and veterans dying while on secret waiting lists, Speaker Pelosi still hasnt gotten the memo that the House VA committee is not a B-team committee anymore, Hegseth said. Contrast that with Speaker Boehner who kept in place Chairman Jeff Miller who led the way on VA reform to keep the focus on reforming the troubled department. If you want serious and substantive change, you must have serious and substantive leadership.

Rep. Browns election makes it clear that Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic leadership in Congress have no intention of doing anything but blocking real reform at the Department of Veterans Affairs even as hundreds of thousands of veterans are still waiting for the care and benefits they have earned, Hegseth concluded. We heard a lot of talk by both parties about caring for our nations veterans in the lead-up to the midterm elections. Minority Leader Pelosi just proved by the tone deaf actions of her caucus that it was exactly that -- just talk.

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com or follow him on Twitter: @KevinDerbySSN

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