Dems ‘throw tantrum’ and SKIP Veteran Affairs reform meeting because group attending had GOP ties

Democrats on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee apparently “threw a tantrum” and skipped a planned discussion on how to reform the Veterans Affairs agency because of a group tied to Republicans.

As lawmakers get ready to tackle legislation to overhaul veterans health care, House Democrats boycotted a roundtable discussion on Tuesday because of the inclusion of Concerned Veterans for America, which they accuse of being a Republican-linked advocacy group that is more interested in political attacks than creating new policy, Military Times reported.

“The chairman has the right to invite any organization he pleases, but to pretend that CVA is anything other than a partisan organization that invests time and money into discrediting Democratic members of Congress, and specifically the ranking member of this committee, is disingenuous,” Griffin Anderson, press secretary for the committee’s Democrats, told Military Times. “We will not pretend it is anything else.”

The American Legion, AMVETS, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and Wounded Warrior Project joined CVA as part of 18 veterans groups invited to the event.

Attendees for the event “were invited to participate because of their interest in and serious study of VA’s community care programs. They were invited for that reason and that reason only,” a spokeswoman for House VA Committee Chairman Phil Roe told Military Times.

Democrats refused to attend the closed roundtable discussion which looked at new legislation on outside care programs at the Department of Veterans Affairs, which CVA is supporting, insisting the current system is outdated and overwhelmed.

Democrats objected to the presence of the advocacy group with ties to Republican Party donors, and were especially irritated by a CVA campaign earlier this year targeting Minnesota Democratic Rep. Tim Walz who voted against funding the Choice program, which offers health care options to veterans outside of the VA.

CVA Policy Director Dan Caldwell called out the Democrats who turned the discussion into a political issue, possibly jeopardizing important policy.

“It is disappointing that the Democrat members of the committee did not want to hear ideas on how to fix the VA from a group of veterans, including many patients of the VA and combat veterans like myself,” he said in a statement Wednesday. “”We have a personal stake in ensuring the VA is improved, as many of our staff and volunteers use the VA – including some who were wounded in combat. We have worked for years to develop comprehensive and bipartisan solutions to the VA’s problems and appreciate that Chairman Roe invited us to this event.”

The Committee chairman “remains committed to a bipartisan process for community care reform,” Tiffany Haverly, communications director for Roe, said.

“The veterans committee is known for its bipartisanship, and while this invitation was a speedbump in that relationship, it is our hope we can get back on track so we can find a long-term solution to VA care in the community in the coming weeks,” committee press secretary Anderson said.

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