Veterans Affairs Department officials who spent $562,000 on artwork in the days before the government shutdown should have used that money to care for veterans while Congress debates the next funding measure, Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, argued in a letter remonstrating with the department head.
"I was appalled to learn that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) spent $562,000 on artwork the week before the 2013 fiscal year concluded," Moran wrote to Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki in a Monday letter.
"If the overall fiscal stability of our country is not of sufficient concern, then the VA should have at least prioritized service to veterans who continue to wait inordinate lengths of time to receive decisions on benefit claims," Moran said.
Government officials spent that money on artwork even as President Obama offered caring for veterans as a primary reason to avoid a government shutdown.
Obama cited veterans as one of the primary reasons to avoid a government shutdown. "We know that certain services and benefits that America’s seniors and veterans and business owners depend on must be put on hold," he said on Oct. 1, 2013, when predicting the effects of the government shutdown.
The Washington Post reported that the Veterans Affairs bought the art ahead of the government shutdown as part of the annual "use-it-or-lose-it" spending spree in the federal bureaucracy intended to persuade Congress that department budgets should not be cut.
"If they don’t [spend it, the money becomes worthless to them on Oct. 1. And — even worse — if they fail to spend the money now, Congress could dock their funding in future years," the Post said. "The incentive, as always, is to spend."