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Congressman Paulsen Has Long Record of Voting Against VA Backlog Fixes

erik-paulsenAs House Republicans shamelessly try to score political points over the crisis in veterans care, Congressman  Erik Paulsen’s votes tell the true story of his record: when he had a chance to fix this problem, he voted against the fixes.

“It’s a shame that when Congressman Paulsen had a chance to do something to help shorten the wait time at the VA he voted no,” said Josh Schwerin of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.  “Congressman Paulsen voted against a commonsense solution to this problem and our heroes deserve better.”


Voted to Block the Veterans Backlog Reduction Act. In 2013, Paulsen voted against considering the Veterans Backlog Reduction Act, which would direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to pay provisional benefits for certain non-adjudicated claims.  The previous question was approved 224-195. A vote against the motion would have allowed for consideration of the veterans bill. [H Res 232, Vote #180, 5/23/13; Congressional Record, H2925, 5/23/13]

Voted Against Increasing Funds to Reduce the Backlog in Veterans Disability Claims.  In 2013, Paulsen voted against a motion that would help reduce the backlog of disability claims for veterans. The motion would have added $9.2 million in funding to hire an additional 94 claims processors to help reduce the veterans disability claims backlog. [CQ Floor Votes, 6/04/13; HR 2216, Vote #192, 6/04/13]

Voted Against Protecting Veterans Benefits During a Government Shutdown. In September 2013, Paulsen voted against ensuring veterans benefits would not be delayed during a government shutdown. He later voted against guaranteeing the processing of veterans benefits during a government shutdown. [HJ Res 59, Vote #477, 9/20/13; HR 3102, Vote #475, 9/19/13; CQ Floor Votes, 9/20/13, 9/19/13]

Voted For Extreme Plan That Would “Likely Result” In a Government Shutdown. In 2013, Paulsen voted for an extreme House Republican continuing resolution that the Associated Press reported would “likely result” in the shutdown of the federal government. The bill passed 230-189. [HJ Res 59, Vote #478, 9/20/13; Associated Press, 8/23/13]

Shutdown Delayed Training for Service Members Transitioning to Civilian Life.  In November 2013, the OMB reported that the shutdown “delayed workshops for 1,400 military service members to help them transition to civilian life and employment.” [OMB, November 2013]

Shutdown Delayed Military Death Benefits.  “But until the lapse in federal funding ends, the families of deceased military personnel cannot expect to receive the “death gratuity” of $100,000 the Defense Department deposits in their bank account within 24 to 36 hours, defense officials said […]Grieving families also cannot expect the military to cover the usual costs of travel to meet their loved ones returning home in American flag-draped coffins through Dover Air Force Base, or pay for funerals and burials, according to the Defense Department.” [Washington Post, 10/09/13]

Shutdown Forced VA to Close Regional Offices, Suspend Services and Programs. “All public access to the VA’s 56 regional offices was suspended Tuesday because of a lack of funds, the VA said […]The VA is also suspending services such as educational and vocational counseling and outreach programs, including those conducted at military facilities.” [Washington Post, 10/09/13]

Shutdown “Harmed Efforts to Reduce the Disability Claims Backlog” for Veterans. “Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki is warning that the government shutdown has harmed efforts to reduce the disability claims backlog […]Since the VA ceased paying overtime for claims processors Oct. 1, the backlog of disability and pensions claims increased by about 200 and now stands at approximately 418,700. In contrast, the backlog decreased approximately 18,000 from Sept. 23 to Sept. 30.” [Washington Post, 10/09/13]

Voted to Make it More Difficult for Veterans to Get Benefits.  In 2011, Paulsen voted for an amendment that would make it harder for low-income veterans and Social Security recipients to retain counsel in a civil action against the United States, like when fighting for benefits. The Lummis amendment imposed a seven-month moratorium on all legal fees paid under the Equal Access to Justice Act, a Reagan-era law designed to help people afford an attorney while suing the government.  “We’re in the middle of two wars right now and to make it harder for a veteran — fighting for his benefits — to have an attorney is a horrible thing. That’s not what this country is about,” Robert Chishold, a prominent veterans’ law attorney said. [Politico, 2/23/11; HR 1, Vote #85, 2/17/11]

Voted Against Protecting Mortgage Relief for Veterans and Active Duty Service Members. In 2011, Paulsen voted against a motion that would protect mortgage assistance under the Emergency Mortgage Relief Program for active duty service members and their families, veterans, and Gold Star eligible families. The underling bill would terminate the Home Affordable Modification Program. [CQ Floor Votes, 3/11/11; HR 839, Vote #197, 3/29/11]

Voted Against Increasing Housing Assistance for Veterans. In June 2012, Paulsen voted against increasing funding for veterans rental voucher’s by $75 million.  [CQ Floor Votes, 6/29/12; HR 5972, Vote #449, 6/29/12]

Voted to Slash Homeless Veterans’ Assistance. In 2011, Paulsen voted for a spending bill that would have eliminated $75 million slated to house homeless Veterans. According to CNN, the cuts would have hurt some 11,000 homeless veterans who qualified for housing in 2011 but had not received vouchers. [HR 1, Vote # 147, 2/19/11; National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, 4/12/11; CNN, 3/1/11]

Voted Against Increasing Funds for Veterans Medical and Prosthetic Research.  In March 2012, Paulsen voted against a motion that would increase funding for veterans medical and prosthetic research by $28.3 million. [CQ Floor Votes, 5/31/12; HR 5854, Vote #304, 5/31/12]

Voted Against Increasing Funds for Veterans Medical Services for Mental Health.  In June 2011, Paulsen voted against a motion that would increase funding for veterans medical services for post-traumatic stress disorder and suicide prevention by $20 million. [CQ Floor Votes, 6/14/11;Watertown Daily Times, 6/14/11; HR 2055, Vote #417, 6/14/11]

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