Republicans Storm Out of Veterans' Affairs Committee, Refuse to Vote on Health Care Bill for Women Veterans

Republicans were accused of trying to attach "poison pill" amendments to a bill on female veterans health care after they stormed out of the House Veterans Affairs Committee on Tuesday.

GOP committee members were filmed leaving a hearing room by Stars and Stripes reporter Steve Beynon after Chairman Mark Takano stopped debate on their proposed additions to the Deborah Sampson Act, a decision Republicans later called "partisan" and "shameful."

California Democrat Takano suggested that he stopped the debate because Republicans were trying to introduce "toxic, partisan amendments" to a bill that aimed to improve health care offered to female veterans at VA medical facilities.

The Military Times reported that GOP representatives tried to introduce amendments covering veterans' firearm rights and VA child care to the suggested expansions of health care rights in the bill.

"House Republicans just walked out on women veterans by refusing to vote on a historic and monumental bill to extend care and benefits included in the Deborah Sampson Act," Veterans' Affairs Chairman Takano said in a statement yesterday.

Republicans on the House Vet Affairs committee stormed out of a mark-up after @RepMarkTakano refused to allow debate on a women veterans healthcare bill.

— Steve Beynon (@StevenBeynon) October 29, 2019

"My Republican colleagues had a seat at the table every step of the way. Instead of bringing forth meaningful, productive additions to legislation that will improve the lives of women veterans, they added toxic, partisan amendments—none of which worked to address how women veterans receive care."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also weighed in on the walk out, tweeting that the protest and "poison pill amendments" attached by Republicans were a "shame."

Navy veteran Andrea Goldstein, who works on the Women Veterans Task Force set up by the House VA Committee earlier this year, said it was "devastating" to see the GOP representatives storm out of the room.

"This legislation was the result of years of collaboration between members and staffs on both side of the aisle, with continuous input from VSOs, community-based organizations, advocates, and individual veterans themselves," she tweeted.

But Tennessee Rep. Phil Roe, the ranking Republican member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, hit back at criticism of the walk out, claiming that the committee was "conducted in such a partisan fashion."

"I am embarrassed to be on the committee today because of the majority's shameful tactics. We need to restore the bipartisan regular order process we've had on the committee in the past for the sake of our veterans," Roe added.

The official Twitter account for Republican members of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee also said it was "absurd" to describe its proposed amendments as "poison pills."

The Deborah Sampson Act was passed by the committee despite GOP refusals to vote on it.