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OPINION - Smeared on the V.A. backlog

by Chris Conley

NEWS BLOG (WSAU) Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI 7) has been smeared by his political opponents. They've released campaign literature saying that Duffy voted against possible fixes to the long waiting lists at V.A. Hospitals. It's not true.

Duffy did vote against the deceptively-named "Veterans Backlog Reduction Act". It was introduced by democrats last year, and did not address doctor waiting lists. It addressed another backlog -- disability benefits for the wives and children of veterans. The bill's proposal was to automatically approve family disability claims that weren't reviewed within 125 days. Duffy voted against that. (For what it's worth, I agree with his vote. Claims need to be considered on the merits not some automatic deadline. The correct solution here is not automatic approval; it's hiring more people to process and review the applications.)

Duffy also voted against amendments to some Veterans Affairs bills in partisan fights over how much money would be given to various VA programs, like funding for suicide prevention and prosthetics research. He ultimately voted 'yes' on final passage.

The unpleasant truth is that President Obama created this problem. He announced a unilateral change -- no vet would wait more than 2-week to see a doctor -- without providing any support to meet that goal. If VA hospitals don't have enough staff, the new rules from the very top lead to chaos and cheating... like secret waiting lists.

Congressman Duffy has an A- voting record AmVets. Yet the claim by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is that "Congressman Duffy has a long history of voting against VA backlog fixes." Politifact, correctly, rated that claim as false.

Chris Conley
6.16.14

Image: Rep. Sean Duffy from wsau.com