Senator Calls Plan to Divert Department’s Resources to Southern Border ‘Very Concerning’
May 04 2022
WASHINGTON––U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee and the lead Republican appropriator for Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) funding, questioned VA officials about the effect the department’s persistent staffing shortage and retention challenges have on the care and services it provides to America’s veterans and raised his concerns about efforts by the Biden administration to send VA resources to the southern border.
At a Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing on Tuesday focused on assessing the department’s workforce, Boozman told VA leaders he views the proposal to divert VA personnel and assets to the southern border to help manage the expected surge that would ensue following the Biden administration’s decision to rescind the Title 42 public health directive as problematic. He voiced his opposition to VA officials testifying before the committee.
“It’s clear we’re experiencing significant challenges regarding staffing. I was very concerned about the possibility of deploying personnel to the border and introduced legislation to prevent that from happening,” Boozman said. “I think, talking to my colleagues, there’s a number who would also be in that camp. So it’s imperative that we hire and retain the best and brightest talent that this country has because our veterans and their family deserve the highest levels of care and support for the sacrifices they have made in protecting our country.”
Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas last week confirmed the Biden administration is considering diverting VA manpower or funding as part of the increased federal response that will be required if Title 42 is lifted. The policy, enacted during the Trump administration, allows U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents to prohibit entry into our country to those who pose health risks such as COVID-19.
The senator has been leading efforts to block the plan and keep VA’s staff and resources focused on delivering timely, quality care to veterans.
Boozman introduced legislation to block the administration from such a move and previously led a group of his colleagues in sending a letter to President Biden laying out the current staffing shortfalls in the VA health system and demanding he commit to preventing VA personnel from being utilized to confront the expected surge at the southern border as a result of ending Title 42.