As the new House majority works to present a budget reduction plan that may still have military cuts on the table, key members are telling veterans their services are not on the chopping block.

“Congress has always prioritized the VA budget,” House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Mike Bost (R-Ill.) told Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough at a Thursday hearing. “Despite all the accusations about cutting care and benefits for veterans, which is not true, secretary, I will always support giving you the resources you need to carry out the mission.”

The administration and House Democrats say if the House returns to the levels of the fiscal year 2022 budget, as Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) agreed to while whipping votes to become speaker, it’s hard to see how the DOD and VA budgets avoid cuts.

House Veterans’ Affairs Ranking Democrat Mark Takano (D-Calif.) said at Thursday’s hearing that the GOP’s promises to protect certain budget areas don’t add up mathematically.

“Large, arbitrary budget cuts would undermine VA’s ability to deliver on the promise it has made to our veterans,” Takano said.

Air Force photo of Chair Bost by Tech Sgt. Christopher Parr