A Democrat hoping to oust U.S. Rep. Jon Runyan recently criticized the Republican congressman’s record on supporting homeless veterans.
Shelley Adler is vying for Runyan’s seat representing New Jersey’s third congressional district, which includes Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst. During an interview on NJTV’s "On the Record" that aired May 4 host Michael Aron asked Adler how her opponent let veterans down if he’s lauded for his representation of that military base.
Adler said two issues were at play: active-duty military personnel and veterans.
"With respect to veterans who are no longer active duty, they are out of service, we owe much more of a duty to the veterans of our country than we have been showing at all. And I think the disrespect by voting to end programs to aid homeless veterans particularly when that population is increasing," Adler said, before Aron jumped in to ask her whether she was referring to U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.)’s budget proposal.
She wasn’t. Adler’s campaign spokesman Michael Muller pointed to a budget appropriations bill passed by the Republican-controlled House on Feb. 19, 2011 to back Adler’s claim.
Runyan as well as 234 of his fellow Republicans voted for that bill, which did not fund 10,000 new housing vouchers for homeless veterans. But the bill continued funding for roughly 30,000 vouchers issued in previous years.
The vouchers, which help homeless veterans by subsidizing a portion of their rent, are part of a program run by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Each year from 2008 to 2010, Congress approved $75 million in funding for approximately 10,000 new vouchers for the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing program, or HUD-VASH. Funding for existing vouchers is renewed every year.
The GOP bill in 2011 had no impact on the existing vouchers, according to Donna White, a HUD spokeswoman. "Any future funding would be on the line," White said, but "existing funding would be protected."
And ultimately, Congress funded new vouchers that year.
A compromise bill provided $50 million, instead of $75 million, in funding for vouchers for the fiscal year. Runyan voted for that bill, which the president signed into law.
Muller, Adler’s campaign spokesman, said, "this is still a case that Runyan voted to defund the program with no guarantee that a compromise would bail out his bad vote based on these facts."
A Runyan spokesman pointed out that the congressman also voted for an additional $75 million for vouchers in fiscal 2012, which PolitiFact New Jersey confirmed.
It’s also worth noting that during the 2011 debate Republicans argued the program had unused vouchers that should be issued before the government funded new ones.
Some Democrats disagreed.
FactCheck.org, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, looked at two claims in the wake of the vote: a Democratic claim that the GOP bill would leave 10,000 homeless veterans out on the streets and a Republican claim that 11,000 vouchers were "waiting" to be used.
The fact-checking group found in April 2011 that neither claim was accurate.
At that time, the program had about 2,400 unclaimed vouchers, enough, FactCheck.org found, to make it through the rest of the fiscal year, which ended on Sept. 30, 2011.
In a television interview, Adler said her opponent voted to "end programs to aid homeless veterans."
Runyan voted for a bill that did not include funding for 10,000 new housing vouchers for homeless veterans. The bill would have had no impact on existing vouchers.
The bill wouldn’t have expanded the program, but it wouldn’t have ended it. And Runyan ultimately voted for another bill, which became law, that included funding for new vouchers.
We rate Adler's statement False.
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