November 24, 2020

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Spat over veterans health care emergency funds stalls spending deal

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Senate Republicans, who back the veterans health care exemption, thought they had resolved the matter last spring, after meeting with President Donald Trump. Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., said in May that Trump was “neutral” about allowing for an exemption.

But McCarthy has always opposed the move, according to sources, arguing it would bust the two-year budget agreement and allow appropriators to spend more money on nondefense programs. During his May meeting with Shelby, Trump called McCarthy for his views.

McCarthy aides weren’t immediately available for comment Saturday on the renewed dispute, which was first reported by the Washington Post. Neither were White House Office of Management and Budget staff or aides to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who has been involved, according to a person familiar with the discussions.

The administration expressed some unease about the veterans cap exemption in July.

In a Statement of Administration Policy on a House spending package (HR 7608), White House officials said treating the veterans’ money as emergency spending raised “concerns about the programmatic rationale for this designation and impeding efficient budget execution.” It also noted that the White House fiscal 2021 budget request “fully funds VA requirements without emergency funding by prioritizing funding within the non-defense cap.”

David Lerman and Jennifer Shutt

2020-11-21 09:26:49

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