District 19 Democratic Congressional Candidate Neal Marchbanks slammed Incumbent Republican Randy Neugebauer for his testimony before the House Committee on the national budget earlier this week. Specifically, the challenger was critical of Neugebauer's proposed performance-based cuts to the Veterans' Administration.
Marchbanks, a veteran himself, said Neugebauer has called for the elimination of all bonuses for VA employees until they catch up on the back log of disability claims.
Marchbanks said the VA Clinic here was built for around 3,000 patients, and is currently serving more than 10,000.
Marchbanks said we need a representative in Washington that will work with the VA to improve the services and facilities, not someone who will point fingers and lay blame on hard-working civil servants.
"It costs more, that's true. But we've had three wars, and we're working out of the same facility. There's a few more people, but the same facility. That facility is too small for 10,000 patients," Marchbanks said.
Congressman Neugebauer's testimony to the Budget Committee reads, in part:
"Until the VA backlog of cases is reduced by 50%, we should eliminate all employee bonuses. Taxpayers shouldn't be funding bonuses for an agency that is failing our veterans."
All of Marchbanks' statement, and Neugebauer's comments to the budget committee is below.
Democratic Candidate Neal Marchbanks (TX-19) Addresses Neugebauer Testimony Before House Committee on the Budget.
Two days ago, my opponent gave testimony before the House Committee on the Budget and in his testimony he has gone beyond belief in his proposals for the national budget, particularly regarding veterans and the Veterans Administration.
His proposal regarding the Veterans Administration hits close to home in this district. He has called for the elimination of all bonuses for VA employees until they catch up the on back log of disability claims. The VA was unable to complete any administrative work during the government shutdown. This pushed back progress on processing claims. Also, new claims could not come in during the shutdown, thus there was a rush of new claims when the offices reopened.
The shutdown of the government was caused by a small group of Congressmen in the House, which included our representative. During the shutdown, our representative embarrassed District 19 by shouting at a Park Service Ranger for doing her job. Now he wants to punish the VA employees because they were shut out of their offices. Our veterans do deserve assistance and this job should not be politicized.
The veteran population has grown rapidly and the facilities to care for them have not kept pace with this increase. Congress controls the budget for the VA and it is the fault of Congress that the VA does not have enough employees and that the facilities are too small.
I am a veteran and I utilize these facilities regularly, I know these employees are working hard to try to keep up with their jobs. I have nothing but respect for them. They do their jobs and try to serve a growing population with the limited resources we give them. We need a representative in Washington that will work with the VA to improve the services and facilities, not someone who will point fingers and lay blame on hardworking civil servants.
Proposals of this nature are not what the people of West Texas or the nation need. This is not responsible spending. These are not common sense reforms. These are proposals that are a waste of time and will never become law. This is a new low even for my opponent and shows just how out of touch he is with the hardworking West Texans that he should be representing.
Neugebauer Testimony to the Budget Committee: Common Sense Reforms
WASHINGTON, DC—Congressman Randy Neugebauer (R-TX) submitted the following testimony to the House Committee on the Budget as part of his ongoing effort to reduce federal spending and make the government more accountable to the people:
“Good Morning Chairman Ryan, Ranking Member Van Hollen and Members of the Committee. Thank you for the opportunity to share my views on the fiscal year 2015 budget and our $17 trillion debt.
“I’m a small businessman, and like millions of Americans, I’ve been through good times and bad. I know what it’s like to study the household expenses weekly, looking for places to save money.
“Families in my district in West Texas are squeezing every penny from every dollar so they can give their kids a good life and all the advantages our country has to offer.
“My constituents work hard to earn their paycheck, and they make tough decisions about how to use that money responsibly.
“So I understand why they’re angry that the U.S. government isn’t doing the same. They see our mounting debt, and they wonder whether all that hard work to provide for their kids will make a difference if America ceases to be the land of opportunity.
“My constituents send their taxes to Washington, and they see them being squandered on ineffective policies and redundant programs.
“It’s no wonder they’re fed up.
“I’ve made a commitment to them that I’ll do everything in my power to make the government accountable to them once more.
“That means reducing red tape and regulations made by bureaucrats that hurt our ability to do business.
“It means that instead of trying to grow the size of government, we need to grow our economy.
“It means reducing spending so the government isn’t wasting their hard-earned tax dollars.
“And it means balancing our federal budget so we don’t keep spending more than we’re taking in.
“In order to do that, we must make difficult decisions. Federal spending on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid is not sustainable, and we must reform these programs if we are going to keep our economy stable in the long-run.
“But there are other actions we can take right now—actions that aren’t as complex as entitlement reform. We can make real progress towards a balanced budget, more responsible spending, and a healthier outlook by making some simple, commonsense reforms to our spending.
“I’m submitting proposals to the Appropriations Subcommittees listing some of these immediate cuts.
“For instance, in the digital age, does it make sense to print hard copies of most government documents? The Government Printing Office received nearly $80 million in FY2014 to print rules, regulations, and reports that could all have simply been published online. If we reduce their budget by 50% we can encourage online publication and save $40 million this year.
“We could also save nearly $2 million by eliminating a lifestyle coaching program for our friends on the Senate side that teaches employees how to reduce stress. With our current debt, we simply can’t afford programs like this.
“Another expense we can’t afford is Amtrak. Since Congress created Amtrak in 1970, it has operated at a loss every single year. We’ve spent $40 billion to fund Amtrak over the years, and yet it continues to lose money. If we defund their operating account, we could save $340 million. But if we defund both their operating and capital expenses, we could save $1.4 billion, and encourage Amtrak to operate only in those areas of the country where it is profitable.
“I’ve identified nearly $170 million in savings from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP. In the Farm Bill that was just signed into law, we made an important reform that was intended to stop states from exploiting a loophole between LIHEAP and federal nutrition assistance. However, Congress increased funding for LIHEAP by $170 million in the FY 2014 Omnibus.
“Now, states are using this increased funding to game the system and trigger more federal payments for nutrition assistance. If we return LIHEAP to FY2013 funding levels, we will save money and prevent abuse of this system.
“I have a number of other proposals, but I will only highlight one more today, because I know this issue is important to all of us. Our veterans have served our country with honor, and they have earned their benefits through duty and sacrifice. Unfortunately, when they apply to Veterans Affairs for assistance, they face red tape and lengthy waits.
“It’s well-known that VA has a terrible case backlog, with more than 400,000 veterans waiting for cases to be processed, and over 250,000 veterans with appeals filed. Despite this poor performance, the VA continues to award performance-based bonuses to its employees, spending over $280 million on bonuses in FY2013.
“That’s inexcusable. Until the VA backlog of cases is reduced by 50%, we should eliminate all employee bonuses. Taxpayers shouldn’t be funding bonuses for an agency that is failing our veterans.
“With that, I’ll conclude my testimony today. I thank you for the opportunity to testify, and I appreciate the chance to work with you to bring our country back in line with the principles of hard work, freedom, and responsibility that made us great.”