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The wall shutdown is hurting veterans

Washington Examiner logo Washington Examiner 1/15/2019 Scott Davis
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Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not necessarily represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

On Jan. 9, the Centers for Disease Control told the nearly 500,000 surviving veterans exposed to toxic water at Marine Base Camp Lejeune that a meeting with public health officials was canceled because of the government shutdown.

It was the latest slap in the face to the Camp Lejeune veterans and shows why Trump needs to end it now, by any means necessary.

The shutdown centers on the fight between the White House and congressional Democrats over funding for the president's proposed $5.7 billion border wall.

As a result of this battle, 800,000 federal employees — including members of the Coast Guard and thousands of federal contract employees — are struggling to make ends meet without a paycheck.

The government shutdown is a financial punch in the gut to veteran families because roughly a third of all government employees (640,000) are veterans.

Like most working American families, these veteran families typically have limited savings and depend on their paycheck to make ends meet.

While many veterans still support President Trump, a growing number are beginning to question his motives for waiting two years after winning the presidency to fight for the border wall. Even more perplexing is why Trump hasn't agreed to use the emergency powers that he says are his right to use to declare and emergency to get the wall built, without approval from Congress.

"I'm not prepared to do that yet, but if I have to, I will," Trump said.

Trump needs to realize the "have to" moment is here. A continuation of the shutdown means we keep denying pay to the Coast Guard, federal law enforcement officials, and veteran families. An end to the shutdown means that we will allow Camp Lejeune victims to continue to get the help they need.

If Trump truly believes he has the statutory authority to build the wall by declaring an emergency, then he has both a legal and moral obligation to do so. Veterans and their families can't wait another week.

Scott Davis (@ScottDavis_WB on Twitter) is a VA whistleblower and authority on government reform who testified before Congress in 2014 about the denial of healthcare benefits to veterans.

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