Addressing the impact of the House GOP debt-ceiling bill on veterans’ programs,“I’m dead serious that we’re not cutting veterans, and I mean it.”

Rep. Mike Bost (R-Ill.), chair of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, in a speech on the House floor, April 26.

House Republicans have set themselves a tough, if not impossible, task in attempting to use a standoff over the nation’s debt limit to cut federal spending to what it was in 2022.

Retrenching to those budget levels would require cutting 8% or 9% from the discretionary program side of the ledger, which excludes entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare. Spending on those programs is required by law. Other spending is dictated by congressional appropriations annually. The latter is up for debate here.

Nevertheless, House Republicans tried to thread the needle with the Limit, Save, Grow Act, which narrowly passed the House on April 26. Its backers say the measure would address the debt ceiling while implementing “commonsense spending reforms.” The House GOP leadership promised to spare programs that are popular with Republican voters, such as the defense budget and veterans’ health services.

Democrats pounced on these possible cuts, especially those that would affect veterans. Their talking points appeared to infuriate Rep. Mike Bost (R-Ill.), chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. On the House floor, he drew a line in the sand.

“I’m dead serious that we’re not cutting veterans, and I mean it,” Bost said. “The White House and Democrats know that we can get our fiscal house in order while ensuring our service members and veterans are taken care of, and yet, with no regard for the impact of their words, they continue to speak lies about how House Republicans are cutting veterans’ benefits.”

By Michael McAuliff
Kaiser Health News is a nonprofit news service covering health issues. It is an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, which is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.