DeMint Supports Veterans, Opposes Wasteful Earmark Spending
U.S. Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) today made the following statement after voting against a budget-busting spending bill that contained earmarks directing billions of dollars away from America's veterans. The White House also stands opposed to the bill, which spends over $4 Billion more than the President's request and represents a more than a 30% increase from 2007 Military Construction and Veterans Appropriations spending.
"I wholeheartedly support our veterans who have sacrificed so much for our freedom and safety, but this bill far exceeded the President's budget and includes wasteful earmarks like a multi-billion dollar park in Beverly Hills," said Senator DeMint. "Our veterans deserve the best care and treatment, and I will continue to fight for them and their families. However, Democrats made no attempt to set priorities or stop wasteful pet projects that siphon funds from the true needs of America's veterans."
A $4 Billion earmark requested by Senator Diane Feinstein (D-Cali.) and opposed by the White House would stop the Department of Veterans Affairs from improving the West Los Angeles Veterans Medical Center (West LA VMC) and instead lead to the creation of a park in Beverly Hills. The West LA VMC was among 18 locations from around the nation that underwent a congressionally approved process to consolidate underused facilities. A three year study of the West LA VMC by independent experts determined the 388 acre site could be drastically consolidated to better serve California veterans, and portions of the unused land could be used to generate over $4 Billion in revenue to help veterans nationwide.
Currently 21 buildings on the site are fully or partially vacant and the projected use of the facility by area veterans is expected to decrease by more than 20% in future years. The 2000 Census found Los Angeles County's population is comprised of less than 8.5% veterans, among the lowest ratings in the U.S. and well below the 12.7% national average.
"This is an appalling earmark that takes $4 Billion dollars which should be used to care for the brave men and women who fought for our country and turns it over to build a park for Beverley Hills 90210. We should all be able to agree that a community with an average household income of $125,000 has a sufficient tax base to build a park and doesn't need a $4 Billion hand out from the federal government. The men and women who wore America's uniform need the money a lot more than the men and women who wear Prada."
Additionally, Senator DeMint opposed an earmark that would use the veterans' bill to appropriate $100 million in "emergency spending" for security at the national political party conventions, a function that should be paid for by the hosting city. According to the nonpartisan Taxpayers for Commonsense (TCS), this Military Construction and Veterans Appropriations bill contains more than 80 other earmarks that total another $634 million in spending.