Excerpts from Press Call in Advance of Rubio’s Proposal on the Department of Veterans Affairs

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Like the entire GOP presidential field, Marco Rubio’s plans for our country’s veterans are backwards and out-of-touch. In advance of his proposal to privatize the Department of Veterans Affairs tomorrow, Congressman Ruben Gallego and Iowa Democratic Party Vice Chair Danny Homan held a press call discussing how Rubio will offer no ideas. Instead, Rubio’s proposal will roll back the progress that has been made for veterans under President Obama, such as providing tax credits for businesses who hire veterans, providing new housing and educational credits in the post-9/11 G.I. Bill, decreasing veterans’ homelessness by one-third, and boosting mental health services for veterans through the Affordable Care Act. Find excerpts from the press call below.

Danny Homan, Vice Chair of IDP

Our veterans in Iowa, and across the nation, have sacrificed tremendous amounts to help keep our country safe. And unlike Marco Rubio, we showed up every day to do our jobs and protect this country.

Iowa veterans rely on the specialized care provided by the VA to meet their often times complex health needs. But the plan that Marco Rubio supports to privatize the VA wouldn’t reform the system—it would dismantle it.

That’s an approach opposed by two thirds of veterans – and I count myself in that overwhelming majority. It’s also opposed by both the VFW and the American Legion.

In fact, the plan praised by Rubio would exclude 20% of future veterans from receiving health care benefits. It would lead to reduced care, and remove the guaranteed health care our veterans have earned.

Republicans like Rubio think the only solution to problems is to leave them up to the private sector. But veterans’ health care is too important to be left to the whims of the private market. Outside care can play a role, but we should not look into those options and then try and tear down the VA. Rubio isn’t offering anything new. Just something dangerous.

Congressman Ruben Gallego

Tomorrow in Iowa, Marco Rubio will lay out his plan to privatize the Department of Veterans Affairs. I cannot stress enough how disastrous this would be for our nation’s veterans.

Last year, Senate Republicans blocked efforts to move ahead with a $21 billion bill that would have improved health and education services and job benefits for veterans. That bill would have guaranteed that veterans who served after 9/11 were granted access to in-state tuition rates at public colleges and universities in any state.

The House Appropriations Subcommittee cut more than $690 million earmarked for direct VA medical care and $582 million in VA construction projects from President Obama’s proposed 2016 budget. Those cuts would mean about 70,000 fewer veterans would be able to receive necessary care.

Republicans have killed other legislation that would benefit veterans by tacking on controversial and unrelated provisions. They sadly prioritize politics over taking care of our nation’s heroes every single day. And that is exactly what Marco Rubio has been doing on foreign policy and what he hopes to do with the Veterans Administration.

When one of our Democratic presidential candidates announced their support of increasing VA funding – Rubio responded with the claim that the VA did not have a “funding problem.”  Makes sense, considering Rubio has voted to block an increase in funding to the VA – all in an effort to dig deeper into the Koch bank and throw aside the concern for caring for our nation’s vets.

But caring for our nation’s veterans goes beyond funding as well.

Until Marco Rubio is willing to say that he will not support Trump if he becomes their nominee, then he is clearly playing political games and isn’t serious about defeating extremists and caring for our soldiers. His attempt to try to distance himself from Trump’s un-American proposal to ban Muslims from the United States is laughable, seeing as they – along with party leadership – have refused to stand up to him, and are echoing his xenophobia.

No veteran should have to worry about our national security, health care, homelessness, or unemployment. Taking care of our brothers and sisters in uniform who have selflessly served our country must be a priority – before and after service.

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