President Joe Biden falsely claimed again on Tuesday that Republicans’ legislation to raise the debt ceiling and curb spending cuts “$22 billion in veterans’ healthcare.”
Speaking at SUNY Westchester Community College in Valhalla, New York, Biden falsely asserted that the Limit, Save, Grow Act takes aim at veterans’ benefits.
“Now, they want to go back to the levels where we cut those folks that now provide that kind of help. This amounts to a $22 billion cut in veterans’ health care,” he said. It appears that Biden meant to say “22 percent,” the figure he has falsely used in other recent claims about the legislation.
However, the Limit, Save, and Grow Act makes no mention of veterans or their health benefits but caps discretionary spending at $1.47 trillion with one percent annual increases, as Breitbart News reported when he tweeted the claim earlier this month:
The bill would also take back all unobligated COVID relief money, rescind nearly $71 billion to the IRS to hire new workers and upgrade technology, block Biden from waiving $10,000 to $20,000 in student loan debts and reduce monthly payments for undergraduate loans, repeal most of the tax breaks Democrats passed to promote their clean energy agenda, and impose work requirements for federal cash and food assistance.
Republicans said that veteran health benefits would not be touched ahead of the vote a few weeks back, and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) reiterated this while speaking with CNN in Israel last week, as Just the News noted:
Can you tell me where in the bill it cuts the V.A.? It doesn’t. See this is the damage that when people do not tell the truth about the bill. It actually goes to the funding where we were four months ago. If you look back to the Obama-Biden budget that they passed for the next ten years, this actually spends more than what they proposed at this time, and the work of Congress gets to decide where spending and it’s just like every family household. I’m very sad that the Democrats would think about cutting the veterans because we would not.
The “22 percent” cut that Biden has seized onto comes from an estimate provided by his director of the Office of Management and Budget, Shalanda Young. The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler detailed how the Biden administration sewed the narrative by seizing on the lack of detail surrounding discretionary spending in the Limit, Save, Grow, and Act. Young’s estimate assumes that Republicans would make no cuts to 050-funded programs – which the House Budget Committee notes “includes the military activities of the Department of Defense (DoD), the nuclear weapons-related activities of the Department of Energy (DOE), the national security activities of several other agencies” – meaning that steep savings would need to come from other programs to cap the figure at $1.47 trillion. Per Kessler, the administration used the Department of Veterans Affairs and the help of Democrat-leaning veterans’ groups to create the narrative:
The administration carefully laid the groundwork for the attack. On April 21, the Department of Veterans Affairs issued a news release warning of the bill’s impact, with specific numbers — “30 million fewer Veteran outpatient visits, and 81,000 jobs lost across the Veterans Health Administration.” Then, more than 20 veterans groups allied with Democrats, such as VoteVets, sent lawmakers a letter requesting that VA funding be protected in the bill. The president of Veterans of Foreign Wars also wrote McCarthy, seeking “explicit assurances” that funding for veterans care would not be disrupted.
VoteVets even launched an advertisement claiming that veterans could die as a result of the legislation, a claim Kessler said warranted four Pinocchio’s.
“The VoteVets ad, using the White House numbers as a source, takes the spin to a Four-Pinocchio extreme, suggesting veterans may die when in fact no vote on the fiscal 2024 Veterans Affairs budget has yet been cast,” he wrote.
Biden pointed to the veterans’ groups while speaking Wednesday as evidence that the bill would cut veterans’ benefits:
Nowhere in their actual proposal, are there exclusive protection for veterans. But they say I’m – it’s unusual language we use with presidents these days – they say I’m lying when I say that. Well, the truth is, why have so many veteran groups spoken out in opposition the Republican proposal. They’re not all Democrats.
The Limit, Save, and Grow Act is the only legislation to raise the debt ceiling in Washington, DC. However, Senate Democrats refuse to take up the bill while simultaneously failing to offer any alternative measures on how to offset runaway debt.
Following congressional leadership’s meeting with Biden at the White House Tuesday, McCarthy stated, “I didn’t see any new movement,” but added their staff would continue talks.
“What we have here is we’re running out of time,” said Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). “It’s time for the president to get serious and to sit down with the speaker and get a solution.”