WASHINGTON — Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy and several other members of Congress say the Department of Veterans Affairs is evicting them from offices operating inside several VA Medical Centers.

  • Some members of Congress have veterans service offices at VA medical centers
  • The VA sent letters to them letting them know they'll be evicted
  • Murphy: Huge chunk of caseload is veterans issues, having the office makes it easier

Now, lawmakers fear they won’t be able to easily connect with veterans who may be experiencing problems before they leave the hospital. 

“Veterans would just walk in, unscheduled appointments. They would see that we were there and would just drop by to share with us concerns they had or issues they had,” said Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Florida Seventh District, in an interview with Spectrum News.

Murphy’s staff share an office with Rep. Darren Soto, D-Florida Ninth District, inside the Orlando VA Medical Center at Lake Nona. The congresswoman said they receive 20-30 walk-ins a week. However, at the end of the year those veterans may not have that opportunity because all congressional offices inside VA medical centers will be forced to close their doors.

“It really limits access not allowing us to have an office at the hospital. A lot of times getting place to place is a real challenge for veterans,” she explained.


Lawmakers say they received a letter from the Department of Veterans Affairs that claims “such agreements are not authorized by law,” and that acting VA Secretary Robert Wilkie has decided not to permit office space to members of Congress and their staff. You can READ the letter from Wilkie HERE.

“The letter took us by surprise. We’re hearing this from the DC federal bureaucracy of the Veterans Affairs Department. We had a working arrangement with the local Veterans Affairs hospital and they didn’t raise any of those issues,” Murphy said.

Reps. Brian Mast, R-Florida 18th District, Ted Deutch, D-Florida 22nd District, Lois Frankel, D-Florida 21st District, and Alcee Hastings, D-Florida 20th District, all share a space in the West Palm Beach VA hospital. Staffers for those members say they also received the same letter.

“VA’s primary mission is delivering medical care to veterans, and the physical spaces within our facilities are used for that mission,” said Randal Noller, a spokesman for the Department of Veterans Affairs. “The department will use the space previously dedicated to six Members of Congress for the provision of medical care services.”

He added that “no law authorizes the department to dedicate its space for members of Congress to provide constituent services ... Past bills authorizing the department to do so have not been enacted.”

Rep. Murphy doesn’t think that explanation is valid.

“A large part of what our office did was to help veterans get access to their benefits so that they could receive care,” she explained.

Members at this time are exploring options to keep these offices open. Even before the letter arrived, Mast introduced the Improving Veterans Access to Congressional Services Act, which is intended to make it easier for more offices to be created. 

Soto and Murphy are among the original co-sponsors.

Murphy criticized the decision in a letter to Wilkie on Wednesday, stating that a quarter of her office’s casework is regarding veterans’ issues.