Rep. Brian Mast (R) has been accused of “misleading” Americans after appearing on Fox News’ “Fox & Friends” to express is frustration and outrage over being “evicted” from his shared congressional office inside the VA hospital in Palm Beach County, Florida.
According to Stars & Stripes, Department of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie called out Mast, saying that the congressman made “false implications” as to why the government agency decided to boot him and five Democratic members of Congress.
“On “Fox & Friends” last week, Mast (pictured below with Reps. Alcee Hastings (D) and Lois Frankel (D) during VA office’s ribbon-cutting service) referenced a tense exchange between he and Wilkie at a hearing in April, during which Mast pressed the secretary to visit the West Palm Beach VA hospital after a doctor there was shot by a patient,” stated Stars & Stripes.
The Floridian previously reported that the VA was giving ‘Mast & Friends’ the boot because it wanted to make more room for its clinic.
“VA’s decision to reclaim the office space in question is not related to any congressional hearing and is rooted instead in the need to maximize the clinical space in VA medical facilities,” Sec. Wilkie wrote.
Wilkie pressed on, reminding Mast that he and the other five members were no different from the rest of the congress who did not have a congressional office situated in a VA hospital, or “are making such demands.”
“You are one of only six members of Congress who currently have office space in a VA facility,” stated Wilkie “None of the other 529 members of Congress, all of whom conduct oversight and constituent services, are making such demands.”
“It does something good for our veterans while not hurting anybody,” Mast said. “If you really want to understand a problem… you have to get your eyes on it and witness it yourself. I want to have an office in the VA so I can have my eyes on it, so my staff can have their eyes on what’s going right and wrong on a daily basis.”
Wilkie in his letter also reminded Mast that things at the VA were different under the Trump administration.
“While that was true during the [former President Barack] Obama Administration, under President Trump, VA has done more in the last two and a half years than previous administrations have in decades to reform the department and improve health care and benefits for our nation’s patriots,” Wilkie wrote.
Mast then said he was going to take this gripe up the chain of command and request to the president that he allow his office inside the VA hospital to stay open.
But while Mast reaches out to the president, and Congress considers his Improving Veterans Access to Congressional Services Act earlier this year – a bill that would allow members of Congress access to VA facilities to meet with constituents, several veterans in Palm Beach County say that the congressional outreach offices at the VA are hardly ever staffed.
“Remember you must go to the VA with a veteran who needs help from Ted’s district to attempt to address an issue. Steve will find out what day his office is supposed to be at the VA. Usually, no one is there.”-Navy Veteran in Palm Beach
Just down the road in Miami, Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D), Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D), Donna Shalala (D), and Mario Diaz-Balart (D) do not have a congressional office at the Miami VA hospital.