Republican senators introduce bill blocking Biden admin from sending VA resources to 'bear burden' at border
Senators say VA funds should be used to care for nation's veterans, not allocated to the border
By Kelly Laco
EXCLUSIVE: A group of Republican senators is introducing legislation to block the Biden administration from sending personnel and funding from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to alleviate the crisis at the southern border.
The senators are alarmed by the Biden administration's announced termination of Title 42 on May 23, which they say is contributing to the disaster on the southern border as thousands of illegal immigrants and deadly drugs continue to pour into the U.S.
Title 42 is a public health order that has been used since March 2020 to quickly expel a majority of migrants at the border due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The new bill introduced Tuesday will "prohibit the use by the Department of Veterans Affairs of funds to provide emergency assistance at the southern border of the United States resulting from the repeal of certain public health orders, and for other purposes."
"Veterans should not bear the burden of President Biden’s disastrous immigration policy. Moving resources away from serving the needs of our veterans to supporting a foreseeable and avoidable crisis at our southern border is unacceptable," Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., told Fox News Digital in a statement.
"Our legislation ensures the care and services for the men and women who bravely fought for our country are prioritized over illegal immigrants," continued Boozman.
Boozman is joined by original co-sponsors of the bill Sens. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., Marco Rubio, R-Fla., John Cornyn, R-Texas, Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., Steve Daines, R-Mont., John Thune, R-S.D., Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., Deb Fischer, R-Neb., Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and Bill Hagerty, R-Tenn.
"It’s despicable that the Biden administration would prioritize resources for illegal immigrants over the veterans who bravely served our country," Rubio told Fox News Digital. "This bill would ensure that VA resources are not diverted to deal with the administration’s growing border surge."
"President Biden and his administration refuse to acknowledge that their actions are ruining any semblance of security on our southern border, and ending Title 42 will make the situation worse. Tapping resources intended for our veterans and their dependents to spend on the administration’s border crisis amounts to one more irrational plan out of this White House," Hyde-Smith said.
Last week, Boozman, who is the lead Republican appropriator for VA funding and a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, sent a letter to President Biden expressing disapproval that VA funds are being allocated to the border, instead of being used to take care of the nation's veterans.
The senators warned in their letter that the VA's "Fourth Mission," which deals with national emergencies, homeland security matters and natural disasters, is not the appropriate route if Title 42 is repealed.
The Fourth Mission "is not a tool to clean up the mess from a foreseeable and avoidable crisis, especially while the VA is already experiencing record-high turnover rates and issues of workforce resiliency among its health care employees," the lawmakers wrote to Biden.
Earlier this month, more than 50 House Republicans pressed U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) over the possibility it may use VA medical personnel to stem an expected migrant border surge as the end of Title 42 approaches.
"Moving VA medical staff away from our veteran’s health care needs to examine illegal immigrants is a recipe for disaster," the letter said. "Wait times for a veteran to see their doctor can average 22 days and reach as high as 42 days. This is unacceptable mismanagement of federal government resources by the Biden administration."
In addition, a group of House Republicans led by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., toured the Texas-Mexico border Monday with agents who he said are "pushed to their limits." They pleaded to Biden and other House Democrats to extend Title 42.