by Brandon Jarvis

Rep. Jen Kiggans, R-VA02, is defending herself against attacks accusing her of voting for legislation that could potentially cut funding for veterans’ services. A former Navy pilot and nurse practitioner, Kiggans represents the Hampton Roads region in Congress, where a large portion of the population is active-duty military personnel. 

Vote Vets, a group that says they elevate the voices of veterans and military families through progressive legislative policies and electoral endorsements that impact the lives of active service members and veterans, is calling out Kiggans for her comments defending herself in a recent video. They have endorsed Democrat Missy Cotter Smasal in VA-02. 

In a video posted on social media, Kiggans defends herself against the Democratic attack ads, calling them lies.

“You’ve probably already seen some of the ads Democrats have been running about me for the past few months,” Kiggans says in the video. “And many of you have come up to me and said, ‘we saw the ad about you wanting to take away veterans’ health care, but we know you’re a veteran, the daughter of a veteran, the wife of a veteran, and mom to future veterans, and a nurse practitioner. So that ad just doesn’t make sense.’ And you’re right, it doesn’t make sense.”

She points out that the actors in the ads, who are also Kiggans’ constituents, are known Democrats in the area. 

“When the opposition party has their chairman in an ad, it’s obviously going to contain a bunch of partisan lies,” she says in the video. 

The vote that Democrats are referencing when accusing Kiggans of supporting cuts to veterans’ benefits is the Limit, Save, Grow Act, which narrowly passed in the House of Representatives. Republicans say the bill is intended to provide “commonsense spending reforms” and is a cut to all spending in the budget. 

With no specific language in the legislation to protect the Department of Veterans Affairs, the VA projected in a press release that they would suffer a 22% cut to their funding.

The VA projects that this cut would result in “30 million fewer Veteran outpatient visits, and 81,000 jobs lost across the Veterans Health Administration.” 

They also project that it will undermine access to telehealth, increase wait times for benefits and prevent construction of new healthcare facilities.  

The VA’s analysis assumes an across-the-board reduction of roughly 22% compared to currently enacted FY 2023 levels for non-defense discretionary accounts. That aligns with proposals to return discretionary spending to FY 2022 levels on an ongoing basis while exempting defense spending, they say

Republicans say the cuts will not be uniform and accuse Democrats of misleading the public. However, they also voted down Democratic amendments to the bill that would protect funding for veterans.

In response to the video from Kiggans, Vote Vets called on Kiggans to “own up” to her vote.

“Lying in a video where you claim to be correcting [misinformation] is a heck of a choice, [Rep Jen Kiggans],” they wrote on social media. “You voted to cut 30,000 jobs at the VA and imperil Veterans health care. Just own up to it and defend it. But don’t insult voters by lying about it.”

The Kiggans campaign is calling these attacks against her a “new low.”

“Jen Kiggans is a former Navy helicopter pilot, geriatric nurse practitioner, and mother to four children. Partisan attacks are an unfortunate part of politics, but blatantly lying about the voting record of someone whose entire career has revolved around serving her community and her country is a new low,” a Kiggans spokesperson said Tuesday morning. “This is not the first time Democrats have used these despicable tactics and it, unfortunately, will not be the last. Dark money-funded liberal groups have resorted to these dishonest tactics because they know that southeast Virginians stand with Congresswoman Kiggans’ rock-solid, commonsense voting record, strong advocacy for military and veteran families, and continued work to lower costs of living for all Americans. The more lies these groups tell about Jen, the more the people of Virginia’s Second District become immune to their tactics. Voters from across the political spectrum in VA-02 see through these political groups’ shameless slander and will send Jen Kiggans back to Congress in November.” 

Kiggans defeated the Democratic incumbent, Rep. Elaine Luria, by three points in 2022.

Democrats are targeting this district as a potential flip. Two Democrats, Missy Cotter Smasal and Jake Denton, are seeking the nomination to run against Kiggans in November.

By vascope