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VA secretary defends at-risk veterans during hearing

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Huelskamp’s comment drew a rebuke from Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.), who called on Huelskamp to apologize.

“That’s beneath this Congress and certainly beneath this committee to question a commitment to veterans,” Walz said.

The sharp exchange highlights the increased tensions in the House over the government shutdown.

The House approved a measure to fund the Veterans Affairs office, one of 10 bills they've passed that fund parts of the government.

The White House and Senate Democrats have rejected the measures, demanding that House Republicans simply reopen the full government. They say they won't agree to cherry-pick which parts of the government to open.

Huelskamp asked Shinseki if he thought Reid didn't like veterans because he hadn't allowed a Senate vote on the bill funding just the Veterans Affairs office.

Shineski answered Huelskamp’s question directly, saying that Reid “very highly values veterans.”

“As to why we are unable, Congress is unable, to do its business, I will leave that to the members to discuss,” Shinseki said.

“You mention Congress, but it is an issue in the U.S. Senate,” Huelskamp responded.

Shinseki also testified that nearly four million veterans risk losing their benefits because of the shutdown, while others could lose pension payments.

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