The House Veterans’ Affairs Committee typically is cordial, but there seems to be a rift between Republicans and Democrats. House Republicans walked out on a committee hearing on Tuesday because Chairman Mark Takano, D-Calif., denied suggested changes to a healthcare policy bill for women veterans that already had bipartisan support.
This prompted Republican committee members to literally leave the negotiation table. Members of both parties are accusing their counterparts of letting the divisive atmosphere that has been rampant because of the impeachment hearings creep into their chamber.
The chairman is claiming Republicans are using a bill that would benefit female veterans to try to force ultra-conservative policies on the American people.
In the original bill, which was specific to addressing women’s gender-specific health services and prevention of sexual harassment at VA hospitals, there was full House support.
Republicans attempted to add on to the supported bill with two unrelated proposals concerning VA day care credentialing issues — and a more contentious topic — veterans’ firearm possession rights, according to The Military Times.
With the additional two proposals, the bill was not allowed to move forward. At that point, Republican members of the committee stormed out mid-vote.
“I am embarrassed to be on the committee today because of the majority’s shameful tactics,” Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., and ranking member of the committee, said in a tweet. “We need to restore the bipartisan regular order process we’ve had on the committee in the past for the sake of our veterans.”
I am embarrassed to be on the committee today because of the majority’s shameful tactics. We need to restore the bipartisan regular order process we’ve had on the committee in the past for the sake of our veterans. (2/2)
— Dr. Phil Roe (@DrPhilRoe) October 29, 2019
Takano defended not pushing the bill through.
“Instead of bringing forth meaningful, productive additions to legislation that will improve the lives of women veterans, they added toxic, partisan amendments — none of which worked to address how women veterans receive care,” Takano said in a statement. “By attempting to hijack a bipartisan bill … they have left veterans behind.”
This spat delays a bipartisan bill that would give women veterans access to crucial healthcare they need at VA hospitals. The bill also is one of the focal points that the new Women Veterans Task Force, launched in May, has been instrumental in bringing to the floor.