Schilling Thanks Bustos for Supporting His Veterans Bill

Press Release

Date: July 1, 2014
Location: East Moline, IL

This week Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (D-East Moline) publicly praised Bobby Schilling's veterans bill that would allow veterans to use their own doctors in their own hometowns, and today Bobby Schilling (R-Colona) thanked Congresswoman Bustos for her belated support. The Schilling campaign, however, noted that Bustos failed to mention that the core provisions of the bill she voted for were originally authored by Bobby Schilling in the legislation he originally introduced in 2011.

Congresswoman Bustos had been mostly silent on veterans issues since taking office before she followed Bobby Schilling and joined his call for VA Secretary Eric Shinseki's resignation in early June. Schilling was one of the first to recognize that new leadership at the VA was crucial after problems continued to worsen under Secretary Shinseki. Bustos waited weeks before following Schilling's call for Secretary Shinseki's resignation--and she only did so when it had already been leaked to the media that Shinseki was resigning anyway.

Bustos then followed Schilling's lead again by voting for his bill to reduce backlogs at the VA by giving veterans the right to use their own doctors in their own hometowns--in fact, Bustos cites this vote as the entirety of what she has done to fix the VA problems. However, when she praised the bill on Monday of this week, she failed to acknowledge Schilling as the author of the provisions for which she voted. Since Schilling has actively toured VA clinics and held news conferences around the district explaining the solution he introduced as legislation in 2011 that finally passed the House of Representatives in a unanimous 426-0 vote, Bustos has been trying to play catch up on veterans issues as she did in her e-mail to supporters on Monday.

While Bustos has followed Schilling's lead on most veterans issues, there is one stark contrast between the two. Schilling never voted to cut $6 billion in veterans benefits like Bustos did last year when she voted for the Ryan-Murray budget. Only after the public became outraged over those cuts did Bustos subsequently vote for a "patch" to make up for that bad vote and restore funding for the cuts.

The Veterans Access to Care Act was introduced by Congressman Jeff Miller (R-Florida) and took much of its language from Schilling's 2011 bill, the Enhanced Veterans Health Care Experience Act.

Bustos, who voted to cut $6 billion in veterans benefits last year, did not co-sponsor the Veterans Access to Care Act, but she did vote for it when it passed the House of Representatives 426-0.

Bustos said the following in an e-mail blast to her subscribers late on Monday:

"I was deeply upset to learn of the reported misconduct at VA Health Centers across the country and have been proactively taking steps to make sure our veterans receive the care they deserve. I was proud to support the bipartisan Veterans Access to Care Act..."

Bobby Schilling released the following statement:

"I'd like to thank Congresswoman Bustos for supporting my veterans bill. It took years of hard work to get this legislation passed, and I'm proud to say that veterans will finally be able to use their own doctors in their own hometowns once the President signs the bill into law.

"While I had hoped Congresswoman Bustos would take veterans issues more seriously earlier in her term, rather than waiting four months before an election to act, I'm happy to see that she is belatedly joining my efforts on behalf of veterans.

"There is still much work to do on veterans issues, but it's encouraging to see the veterans bill we introduced finally on its way to becoming law. Working on veterans issues was a passion of mine while serving in Congress, and it's amazing to see hard work pay off to help our heroes."