President Donald Trump is in the midst of a war of words with a congresswoman from Florida. Just days after she said Trump told the widow of a fallen soldier that he “signed up for this,” the president claims she has an agenda against him and fabricated the story.
The phone call, which was been backed up by Sgt. La David Johnson’s mother, took place Tuesday, just hours before the 25-year-old soldier’s body was emotionally returned to Miami Gardens after he was killed while on a non-combat mission in Niger.
Trump has remained critical of Wilson since her claim on numerous occasions.
Wilson, a Democrat, previously served as the executive director for Miami’s Office of Alternative Education. She was elected to represent Florida’s District 17 in 2010 and then the 24th district in 2012. Her term is set to expire January 3, 2019.
According to her answers on a questionnaire to Vote Smart, Wilson is pro-choice, supports same-sex marriage and is against the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act. She also “generally” supports gun-control legislation while also supporting income tax increases to any tax bracket in order to balance the budget. In virtually every bill that’s related to veterans, though, she’s voted against proposed legislation, her voting record showed.
Here’s what you need to know about her voting record:
1. She Opposed a Bill Expanding Benefits to the Families of Fallen Soldiers
In 2013, Wilson voted against a resolution that looked to ensure that veterans and their families wouldn’t be affected by the government shutdown that took place in October 2013. The bill, which failed in The House 164-264 would have appropriated over $2 billion to the Department of Veterans Affairs for administration and general operations.
According to The New York Times, four families of fallen soldiers were denied burial benefits worth up for $100,000 when the government shutdown occurred.
The V.A. used up its carryover funding and furloughed 7,000 workers who process compensation claims during the shutdown. It cut off public access to all offices where veterans file claims of compensation of combat, USA Today reported.
Wilson was critical of Republicans for causing the government shutdown at the time, saying “hundreds of thousands of workers were told not to come to work today.”
“Of all the votes Congress must take, the vote to keep the government open should be the easiest,” she said in a statement. “Yet Republicans refuse to agree to even the most fiscally-conservative budget in years unless it’s accompanied by extreme and unrelated measures that will sabotage the nation’s healthcare.”
U.S. Department of Defense spokesman Carl Woog said the department didn’t have “the authority to pay death gratuities and other key benefits for the survivors of service members killed in action” due to the government shutdown.
Earlier this year, Wilson and her colleagues passed a bill that helped improve the V.A.’s authority to “hire and retain physicians.”
“In a welcome show of bipartisanship today, my colleagues and I unanimously passed legislation to improve the V.A.’s ability to recruit and retain high-quality health care providers and to compete with non-VA medical facilities to attract the best-possible candidates. H.R. 1367 also addresses other pressing staffing issues,” Wilson wrote in a statement.
2. Wilson Voted Against a Bill Protecting Whistleblowers Within the VA
On June 13, Wilson voted against the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017. The department sought to establish a special department within the V.A. that improves accountability and further protects whistleblowers. It also directed the secretary of the V.A. to establish the office and appoint a special assistant to serve as the new department’s executive director in addition to giving the secretary the ability to remove federal employees whenever necessary.
The bill passed through the House 368-55 and was then issued by Trump as an executive order 10 days later. Trump spoke about the the signing of the executive order in the East Room of the White House.
“The enthusiasm for the Veterans Administration and for making it right for our great veterans has been incredible,” Trump said in a speech.
This is one of the largest reforms to the VA in its history. It’s a reform that I campaigned on, and now I am thrilled to be able to sign that promise into law.
VA accountability is essential to making sure that our veterans are treated with the respect they have so richly earned through their blood, sweat and tears. This law will finally give the VA Secretary — who is, by the way, just doing some job, and he’s doing it with this and with the heart. (Applause.)
It gives the Secretary the authority to remove federal employees who fail and endanger our veterans — and to do so quickly and effectively. It’s been a long time since you’ve heard those words. Those entrusted with the sacred duty of serving our veterans will be held accountable for the care they provide. It’s a big statement.
At the same time, this bill protects whistleblowers who do the right thing. We want to reward, cherish, and promote the many dedicated employees at the VA. This legislation also gives the VA Secretary the authority to appoiynt new medical directors at VA hospitals — something which was almost impossible to do in the past. And these are going to be talented, talented people.
A description of the newly-established department within the V.A. reads:
OAWP provides investigative internal affairs services necessary to improve health, benefits and cemetery needs for each and every Veteran.
Headquartered in Washington DC, the office has satellite resources and programs in additional VA facilities across the United States.
3. Wilson Opposed a Bill That Prevented a Government Shutdown
On March 6, 2013, Wilson opposed the “Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act,” which prevented a government shutdown and appropriated federal funds for the military and the VA if a shutdown were to occur.
The bill passed through the House, 318-109, with 82 Democrats and 27 Republicans voting against it. It was signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 26, 2013.
“The bill reflects the impact of the sequester, providing approximately $64.9 million for ARC for FY 2013, a reduction of roughly 5 percent from the pre-sequester funding level of $68.6 million,” the Appalachian Regional Commission described.
4. She Voted Against the Recent Republican-Backed U.S. Budget Bill
Wilson voted no on the latest Republican-backed budget bill, which established the federal budget for fiscal year 2018 and set forth the appropriate budget levels for 2019 through 2027. Her nay vote came on October 5, and she was one of 188 Democrats to do so. The bill passed through the House 219-206 and passed through the Senate late in the evening October 19 by a 51-49 vote. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky as the only Republican to vote against the bill.
The budget’s passage allows the GOP to pass tax legislation through the Senate with 50 or more votes, thus getting rid of the need for Democratic support, The Washington Post reported.
“Tonight, we completed the first step toward replacing our broken tax code,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said. “We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to replace a failing tax code that holds Americans back with one that actually works for them,”
The newly-passed budget will head to the desk of Trump, and it opens the door for an expansion of the federal deficit by $1.5 trillion over the next decade.
5. Wilson Voted Against a Bill That Keeps Guns Out of the Hands of Mentally Incompetent Veterans
On March 16, Wilson voted no on a bill that seeks to “authorize veterans deemed mentally incompetent to buy firearms, unless they are found by a judge to be dangerous to themselves or others.”
The piece of legislation, titled the “Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act,” passed through the House 240-175, with 173 of the nay votes coming from Democrats. The bill hasn’t move forward to the Senate yet.
In the wake of the recent mass shooting in Las Vegas, which ended with 58 people being killed and over 500 injured, Wilson issued a statement calling for the ban of assault weapons. It was the deadliest mass shooting in American history.
“I cannot think of a single justification for allowing civilian individuals to own semiautomatic assault weapons, which were created for use in war to kill as many people as possible as quickly as possible,” she wrote. “To those who can, I ask the following question: How many people must have their lives cut short or changed forever before lawmakers act to end the sale of these weapons and pass other common-sense gun control legislation so that tragedies such as the one that took place last night do not begin to lose their shock value–or better yet, never happen again?”
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