Senate Democrats, under fire for blocking bipartisan VA accountability legislation, are attempting to deflect criticism by calling for more VA funding.  The trouble is, funding has nothing to do with the problems at the heart of the system-wide failures at the VA – it’s a lack of accountability.  Republicans aren’t the only ones to call out Democrats for their latest canard.  The pushback is coming from:

…Op-Eds & Editorial Boards:

  • “The VA Is, at the Moment, Unable to Spend All the Health Care Money Congress Has Already Given It.” “The additional spending was particularly controversial on Capitol Hill because the VA is, at the moment, unable to spend all the health care money Congress has already given it. In obscure budget notices in the past several years, the VA has informed Congress that it planned to ‘carryover’ unspent medical care funds from one year to the next. According to a Senate Republican analysis, the VA plans to carryover $450 million from Fiscal Year 2014 to Fiscal Year 2015. The year before, FY13 to FY14, it carried over $543 million.” (Byron York, Washington Examiner)
  • “Throwing More at the VA Would Merely Reward Failure.” “Many Democrats and unions are prescribing more money. Yet since 2005 the VA’s outlays have grown to $57.3 billion from $32.5 billion—a 76% increase—while the number of veterans seeking care has risen by 18%. IG reports make clear that throwing more at the VA would merely reward failure.” (Wall Street Journal editorial)
  • “This failure by VA officials to provide the services promised comes despite a 78 percent increase in the VA’s budget over the last six years.” (Charleston Daily Mail editorial)
  • Nor can leaders blame a lack of money. The VA’s budget has tripled since 2000 to $151 billion.” (USA Today editorial)

…Veterans Groups:

  • Alex Nicholson, Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America: “VA Is Facing Woes that Are Clearly Due to a Failure of Planning & Leadership.” “The VA, some say, needs more money to do its job and care for veterans properly. But looking at the facts, that math just does not add up. Since 2009, Congress has given Secretary Eric Shinseki every penny he has said he needed to fund the VA fully…Far from being underfunded, the VA is facing woes that are clearly due to a failure of planning and leadership.” (CNN op-ed)
  • Joe Davis, VFW: “Money Is Not the Issue Right Now.” “But veterans groups say the problems at the department are with management and leadership, which can’t be fixed with cash.  ‘Money is not the issue right now,’ said Joe Davis, a spokesman for Veterans of Foreign Wars. ‘It’s honesty in the ranks, identifying and fixing what’s broken, holding people accountable and restoring the faith veterans are supposed to have in their VA.’” (Washington Times)
  • Darin Selnick, Concerned Veterans For America: “The VA Has All the Funds It Needs.” ‘The VA has all the funds it needs and all the staff it needs,’ Selnick, a retired Air Force captain, told TheBlaze. ‘It’s just bad management.’” (The Blaze)

…Even Some Democrats:

  • Rep. John Barrow (D-GA): “If They Had an Excuse or a Reason to Blame Congress, They Would.” “‘If they had an excuse or a reason to blame Congress, they would, but it is very difficult to pass the buck because we’ve been giving them a whole lot more money,’ Bar­row said.” (Augusta Chronicle)
  • Rep. Ed Pastor (D-AZ): “The Problem Is the Reluctance of the Bureaucrats to Make Needed Changes.” “But Arizona’s senior Democratic congressman, U.S. Rep. Ed Pastor, who has decades of experience on the committee that allocates funding for the VA, thinks money is not the problem.  ‘The reality has been ... we have been able to add money every fiscal year to help veterans, under Democratic and Republican administrations,’ said Pastor…The problem is the reluctance of the bureaucrats to make needed changes, he said.” (Arizona Republic)
  • Rep. Joe Garcia (D-FL): “We Haven’t Suffered for a Lack of Money.” “We haven’t suffered for a lack of money, the V.A. budget has more than doubled. It’s either resources or management of the institution.” (The Key West Citizen)

In a letter to the White House yesterday, House Republican leaders urged President Obama to take several immediate steps to help ensure our veterans get the benefits and care they deserve, including calling on Senate Democrats “to reconsider their obstruction, and immediately pass H.R. 4031 so we can begin to address these ‘basic management issues.’”  If Senate Democrats are serious about bringing real accountability to the VA, taking up and passing the VA Management Accountability Act – which passed the House with the support of more than 160 Democrats - would be a good place to start.