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Miller Supports Trump On Veterans Affairs


Outgoing Cong. Jeff Miller appeared Monday with Donald Trump in Virginia Beach, Virginia, as the presumptive Republican nominee outlined a ten-point plan to improve the Veterans Administration.

One question being asked is: what's in it for Miller?

Donald Trump has been working to repair his relationship with veterans since he suggested early in his campaign that Sen. John McCain was not a war hero because he was captured during the Vietnam War. He also raised eyebrows earlier this year when he failed to immediately disclose which veterans' charities he'd given money to following a fundraiser he'd held in place of appearing at a Republican debate.

On Monday, Trump pledged to crack down on Veterans Affairs employees who fail to serve veterans, and that his administration would mount a full investigation into the VA.

“Right now, when VA employees fail our veterans, you can’t discipline them,” was Trump’s claim. “That’s because of outdated civil service rules in need of reform.”

Before Trump took the stage, the crowd heard from Florida’s 1st House District Representative. Jeff Miller endorsed Trump in March, not long after he announced his retirement from Congress after eight terms. He has tackled numerous VA issues during his tenure on the Hill.

“Donald Trump knows the challenges that face America’s veterans today,” Miller told the crowd. “He has the experience and the leadership that’s necessary to boldly reform the Department of Veterans Affairs.”

House and Senate lawmakers adopted separate spending plans, setting the stage for another program funding boost in fiscal 2017 but also months of negotiations over a host of new veterans’ initiatives. The Obama Administration’s asking for $66.4 billion in discretionary funding for Medical Care, and $104 billion in in mandatory funding for Veterans benefits programs.

But Miller contends it’s not just about the money.

“The Department of Veterans Affairs budget has quadrupled since 2001,” said Miller. “But the same department lurches back and forth every single day from scandal to scandal. And veterans continue to pay the price.”

Charles Zelden, a political scientist at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, says there are two approaches in looking at those supporting Donald Trump, especially among the political class.

“One is they’re buying into Trump’s message, or they think their constituents are buying into it,” Zelden said. “The other is they feel they can get something out of it, either for themselves or their constituency.”

But since Miller is leaving office, there’s no future constituency at play. The question then becomes, what do Miller and other supporters hope to get out of their Trump endorsements?

“It could just be ideological, it could be they agree with Trump,” said Zelden. “But in the back of your mind you’re wondering if they’re thinking that ‘You know, if Trump wins, I could get a job in the executive branch.’ In [Miller’s] case, VA Secretary would definitely be a possibility.”

There is no indication at this time that Jeff Miller is either seeking, or being sought for, any post in a Trump Administration. And Zelden adds that other candidates often reward fidelity with a federal paycheck.

“[Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee] Hillary Clinton is going to pick individuals for her cabinet who were loyal to her during the election cycle,” said Zelden. “It’s not so much a payoff as it’s sort of you want people in those positions who you know you can trust.”

For now, it’s unclear how Donald Trump’s commission would be different from the one that unveiled its findings last week. That report recommended replacing the VA program with a new, nationwide community care network, open to all veterans, regardless of how long they have waited for care or where they live.