Congressional offices to be evicted from Orlando Veterans Affairs Medical Center

LAKE NONA, Fla. — Veterans Affairs said lawmakers with offices inside their facilities will have to pack up and leave.

In Central Florida, the Orlando Veterans Affairs Medical Center is one of the places that houses congressional offices.

Rep. Stephanie Murphy said the office she shares at the VA hospital with Rep. Darren Soto is the size of a broom closet.

Murphy said their request for a shared office was approved December 2018, and they moved in the office in February.

But now, the VA is telling them they will be evicted by the end of the year.

The VA began allowing these offices in facilities around the time they were being accused of not being accountable and transparent enough.

Veteran Joe Kittinger said no matter how small, that space should not be used by members of Congress.

"To take up one of the rooms, even if it's a broom closet for something other than for veterans and staff of the hospital, I think is unwarranted," Kittinger said.

The VA said its "primary mission is to deliver medical care to veterans and the physical spaces within our facilities are used for that mission."

It also said, "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 no been enacted."

Murphy told Channel 9 she gets 20 to 30 walk-ins each week in her facility. She think the VA is making a big mistake.

"The consequence is that veterans will be hurt in this because they will lose a convenient location for access for constituent services," Murphy said.

Murphy said her next step is to try to get the VA to reverse its decision.

She said she is going to schedule a conference call with them next week.

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