Veterans’ assistance program passes U.S. House, with Pa. U.S. Rep. Scott Perry voting against

Perry, a combat veteran, took issue with some provisions of the HOME Act.

By: - December 13, 2023 6:00 pm

Rep. Scott Perry talking to reporters at the Capitol Sept. 19, 2023 (Jennifer Shutt/ States Newsroom)

Last week, the U.S. House voted overwhelmingly to pass legislation aimed at providing housing for military veterans. All of Pennsylvania’s House delegation, including three veterans, voted in favor of the Housing our Military Veterans Effectively Act of 2023, with one exception: U.S. Rep. Scott Perry (R-10th District). 

The HOME Act increases the rate the Veterans Affairs’ Department pays nonprofits like the Salvation Army that assist veterans with short-term transition housing, from a rate of 115% to 133%, which could be raised to 200% in certain circumstances, such as in rural areas or areas with a high veteran suicide rate.

The Act creates a stipend for veterans experiencing homelessness to purchase necessities, including food, shelter, clothing, hygiene items, and transportation services. It restores the Veterans Affairs Department’s former pandemic authority to help unhoused veterans, which contributed to an 11% reduction in veteran homelessness in two years.

According to the 2022 Census, there were more than 45,000 civilian veterans in the 10th District.

A spokesperson from Perry’s office told the Capital-Star that he voted no because the bill “extended an increase in the fee for VA home loans,” which he said would make it more difficult for veterans to get homes.

“It’s completely counterintuitive to make it more difficult for Veterans to be housed in order to pay for homelessness,” Perry’s chief of staff  Lauren E. Muglia, a retired Army veteran, told the Capital-Star in an email. “Additionally, the bill diverts money from existing VA homelessness programs to programs that do not help the homeless, and are not remotely a sound use of Taxpayer dollars. The bill also misallocates resources by allowing the VA to use medical facilities as homeless shelters – for which they are not intended, and will only result in degrading medical services to Veterans, which is unacceptable in any way.”

The text of the bill includes language that says the Secretary of Veterans Affairs “may collaborate, to the extent practicable, with one or more organizations to manage the use of land of the Department of Veterans Affairs for homeless veterans for living and sleeping.” 

But Muglia did not reply to a question in a follow-up email asking which programs were considered not a “sound use of taxpayer dollars.”

Perry’s military service spans nearly four decades. He enlisted in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard in 1980, and retired in 2019. During his military career, Perry deployed to Iraq from 2009 to 2010 and flew 44 combat missions. He was promoted to the rank of Colonel in 2011, and was promoted to Brigadier General in 2014. 

Pennsylvania U.S. Reps. Chris Deluzio (D-17th District), Chrissy Houlahan (D-6th District), and Guy Reschenthaler (R-14th District), are also military veterans and all voted in favor of the HOME Act. 

“As a third-generation veteran, ensuring our veteran community is treated with dignity and respect is personal to me – and it should be personal to every American who values those who fought for our freedoms,” Houlahan, a retired Air Force officer, told the Capital-Star. “The HOME Act is a great example of an overwhelmingly bipartisan initiative that doesn’t always get the spotlight in a fractured Congress, but I’m proud to have been one of the 408 Members who supported it.”

When asked about Perry’s “nay” vote, she said it was a “shame” that he “so often votes against the measures that would improve the lives of his constituents, including veterans.”

Deluzio echoed Houlahan’s comments.

“This nation has a sacred promise to support my fellow veterans when they come home from service, and that absolutely includes working to get veterans out of homelessness,” Deluzio, a Navy veteran, said in an email to the Capital-Star. “The HOME Act is a powerful step forward to tackle veteran homelessness. It’s plain and simple, votes against this measure are a betrayal of our obligation to our nation’s veterans.”

Reschenthaler did not respond to a request for comment from the Capital-Star. 

The current Congress has 81 military veterans; before Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT) resigned in September, that figure was 82. Seventy-three veterans voted in favor of the HOME Act, while Perry and four others voted against. Several other veterans did not cast votes on the HOME Act. 

Perry is currently in his sixth term representing the 10th District in south-central Pennsylvania.  The Democratic race to face the outgoing conservative House Freedom Caucus Chair is crowded, although national ratings outlet the Cook Political Report cited one candidate, Janelle Stelson, as a reason the race might be closer than previously thought.

On Wednesday, the Cook Political Report shifted its rating for the 10th Congressional District race from Likely Republican to Lean Republican.

In 2022, Perry defeated Democratic challenger Shamaine Daniels by 7.6 points.  Daniels is also seeking to challenge Perry again in 2024.

Capital-Star editor Kim Lyons contributed to this report.

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John Cole
John Cole

John Cole is a journalist based in Philadelphia. He's worked for various outlets such as The Northeast Times, PoliticsPA, and PCN. In these previous roles, he covered a wide range of topics from local civic association meetings to races across the commonwealth. He earned a degree in journalism from Temple University.