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Senate Dems Unanimous In Urging Trump Not To Freeze Hiring For Vets

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Jonah Bennett Contributor
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Senate Democrats are unanimous in urging President Donald Trump to exempt the Department of Veterans Affairs from the newly imposed hiring freeze.

According to these Senate Democrats, who are joined by other Democratic legislators in the House, blocking the VA from hiring will only serve to harm the delivery of care and benefits to veterans, which is needed more than ever as the department tries to repair trust, Military Times reports.

Trump instituted a hiring freeze Monday that only exempts military personnel and roles “necessary to meet national security or public safety responsibilities,” which has put him somewhat in conflict with his pick to head the VA, current official David Shulkin.

Shulkin has pointed to the need to hire more people at the agency to drastically slash the amount of time veterans have to wait for appointments. In a 2015 interview with NPR, Shulkin said he wanted to fill 45,000 open positions across the country.

Acting VA Director Robert Snyder commented Tuesday that the department was examining ways to get around the freeze.

“The Department of Veterans Affairs intends to exempt anyone it deems necessary for public safety, including front-line caregivers,” Snyder said in a statement Tuesday.

But instead of clever workarounds, Democrats want Trump to more explicitly exempt the VA from the hiring freeze, as exemptions for “front-line caregivers” don’t cover the ecosystem of support staff needed to make sure vets get the care they need, like schedulers and payment processors.

“The department’s inability to hire clinicians and the administrative support teams to schedule appointments will have a direct impact on the number of veterans on waiting lists at facilities across the country,” the letter written by Democratic legislators states.

“Further, this will have an impact on community providers, who will be forced to continue waiting for delayed payments without VA having the ability to hire employees to process payments on their claims,” the letter adds.

Additionally, Democrats think that any veterans seeking employment anywhere in the federal government should also be exempted from the freeze.

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