RICHMOND, VA – Last week, the Washington Post published an opinion piece detailing the extraordinary cowardice of Congresswoman Jen Kiggans.
The opinion piece, written by Dana Milbank, details how Congresswoman Kiggans voted to gut veterans’ healthcare – despite representing one of the largest populations of veterans and military families in the entire country – among other essential federal programs.
“Jen Kiggans rolled over, putting Kevin McCarthy and Marjorie Taylor Greene above her constituents once again,” said Liam Watson, Press Secretary for the Democratic Party of Virginia. “Even after making it clear that on the floor of the U.S. House that she knew her constituents would be hurt, Kiggans joined right-wing extremists to put health care at risk for more than 160,000 veterans in the Commonwealth, jeopardizing food security for nearly 200,000 Virginians, and endangering public safety. Virginians deserve better.”
The Washington Post: House Republicans walk the plank
April 28, 2023 | Dana Milbank
Jen Kiggans had the haunted look of a woman about to walk the plank.
The first-term Republican from Virginia barely took her eyes off her text Wednesday as she read it aloud on the House floor. She tripped over words and used her fingers to keep her place on the page.
The anxiety was understandable. Like about 30 other House Republicans from vulnerable districts, she was about to vote in favor of the GOP’s plan to force spending cuts of about $4.8 trillion as the ransom to be paid for avoiding a default on the federal debt.
“I do have serious concerns with the provision of this legislation that repeals clean-energy investment tax credits, particularly for wind energy,” she read. “These credits have been very beneficial to my constituents, attracting significant investment and new manufacturing jobs for businesses in southeast Virginia.”
Directing a question to the Republicans’ chief deputy whip, Guy Reschenthaler (Pa.), she asked for “the gentleman’s assurance that I will be able to address these concerns as we move forward in these negotiations and advocate for the interests of my district.”
The gentleman offered no such assurance. “I support repealing these tax credits,” he replied, offering only the noncommittal promise to “continue to work with the gentlewoman from Virginia, just like we will with all members.”
Kiggans then cast her vote to abolish the clean-energy credits her constituents find so “beneficial.”
House GOP leaders are celebrating their ability to pass their debt plan, even though it has no chance of surviving the Senate nor President Biden’s veto pen. But the bill’s passage has achieved one thing that cannot be undone: It has put 217 House Republicans on record in favor of demolishing popular government services enjoyed by their constituents.
In Kiggans’s Virginia, the legislation she just backed would strip tax incentives that go to the likes of Dominion Energy, which is building a $9.8 billion offshore wind project in her district.
She also voted to ax solar and electric-vehicle incentives for hundreds of thousands of Virginians, and tax breaks projected to bring $11.6 billion in clean-power investment to the commonwealth.
In addition, the bill she supported sets spending targets that require an immediate 22 percent cut to all “non-defense discretionary spending” — that’s border security, the FBI, airport security, air traffic control, highways, agriculture programs, veterans’ health programs, food stamps, Medicaid, medical research, national parks and much more. If they want to cut less than 22 percent in some of those areas, they’ll have to cut more than 22 percent in others.
According to an administration analysis of what the 22 percent cuts translate to, Kiggans is now on record supporting:
Shutting down at least two air traffic control towers in Virginia.
Jeopardizing outpatient medical care for 162,300 Virginia veterans.
Throwing up to 175,000 Virginians off food stamps and ending food assistance for another 25,000 through the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program Women, Infants and Children.
Cutting or ending Pell Grants for 162,900 Virginia college students.
Eliminating Head Start for 3,600 Virginia children and child care for another 1,300 children.
Adding at least two months to wait times for Virginia seniors seeking assistance with Social Security and Medicare.
Denying opioid treatment for more than 600 Virginians.
Ending 180 days of rail inspections per year and 1,350 fewer miles of track inspected.
Kicking 13,400 Virginia families off rental assistance.
Similar calculations can be made for the other 30 House Republicans targeted by Democrats in the 2024 elections who joined Kiggans in walking the plank. Since enactment of the clean-energy credits Republicans have now voted to repeal, for example, clean-energy projects worth some $198 billion and 77,261 jobs have moved forward in districts represented by Republicans, according to the advocacy group Climate Power.
Kiggans, in her floor speech attempting to disavow the cuts she was about to vote for, suggested she was casting her yea vote only because “this bill is not the final product” and it “gets us to the negotiating table.”
But the record is now clear. Kiggans and other House Republicans just voted to curb or eliminate a huge swath of government services that Americans rely on — and their constituents ought to know it.