The top Democratic member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee is skipping the American Legion’s national conference in Washington, D.C. this week.
Hosted annually, the conference usually brings in top elected officials and, especially, the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate veterans affairs committees. But Florida Democratic Rep. Corrine Brown has other plans, according to her director of communications, David Simon.
“She won’t be in town for that meeting, but she will be participating in the luncheon at the Legion event for the Florida delegation where member priorities are discussed and Florida members are briefed on some of the region’s priorities,” Simon told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “She is meeting with the Legion in her office on Wednesday, and is of course attending the joint hearing on Wednesday.”
Brown entered the discussion of veterans’ issues in late November, when she was tapped as ranking member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee amid protests from veterans, who wanted Rep. Tim Walz. A Democrat from Minnesota, Walz served with the Army National Guard for 24 years, is the highest-ranking enlisted veteran in Congress, and served in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
That didn’t prevent the Democrats from temporarily booting him out of the committee on a technicality. The move enraged veterans because according to them, Brown hardly ever attends committee hearings and is otherwise complacent about reform.
In May 2014, for example, she testified that she had done her “reconnaissance in Florida.”
“I can tell you that we’re doing fine in Florida,” she said. But the Malcolm Randall VA Medical Center in Gainesville, Fla. is notorious for blocking attempts by state health inspectors to determine whether the center really is providing adequate health care, since veterans have reported the precisely the opposite. At the time, the center was also under investigation by the VA.
As if nothing had happened, Brown reaffirmed at a hearing in July of 2014 that “the VA system is one of the best systems in the United States. That is what I’m saying.”
After significant pushback, Brown added, “I personally think the VA system is an ‘A’ or a 10.”
Emphasizing the importance of The American Legion, a few days ago Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald paid the organization a visit at its office in Washington. McDonald spoke for over two hours with National Commander Michael D. Helm and other staff on the importance of the relationship between the two organizations, as well as the progress the VA has made toward reform.
“Without The American Legion there would be no VA,” McDonald stated. “All along America’s history of wars it’s been The American Legion that had led in the creation of [the VA].”
The American Legion did not respond to a request for comment before publication.
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Editor’s Note: An original version of this report claimed that Walz served in Iraq, but Walz served in Italy in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.