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Trump raises funds in Las Vegas for GOP candidates, signs VA bill

Updated September 21, 2018 - 3:49 pm

When you are President Donald Trump and you’re holding a fundraiser for Republican candidates in Las Vegas, where do you hold your event? Probably at the same place you spent the night, the Trump International Hotel.

The president headlined a Friday morning fundraiser for Sen Dean Heller, R-Nev., and Republican congressional candidate Danny Tarkanian at the hotel, where, away from the press corps, donors paid up to $50,000 per couple to attend a roundtable and have their photo taken with Trump.

After the event, the president’s motorcade headed to the North Las Vegas VA Medical Center to show solidarity with the state’s 300,000 veterans.

Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie introduced Trump as “the first president to put veterans at the center of his campaign.”

Nevada’s top Republicans, Gov. Brian Sandoval, Attorney General Adam Laxalt and Heller attended the ceremony along with some 150 Nevadans, many of them veterans. Heller, Trump noted, worked for the bill “all the way, right from the beginning.”

Of his support of veterans, Trump said, “You back me and I back you. That’s the way it works.”

Also on stage stood Vin Putignano, a former Marine and Vietnam veteran who has lived in Las Vegas for two years. Recent changes, he marveled, allowed him to find a new podiatrist for an ulcerated toe.

“He came and made a house call,” Putignano told the crowd.

“This is a very special situation,” Putignano said. “I’m getting old. I think a couple people in here are too.” He then turned to look at Trump, who smiled while the audience laughed

Later Trump deadpanned to Putigano, “Take care of that toe.”

Trump then signed three spending bills, including a measure to provide $86.5 billion to the Department of Veterans Affairs — increasing the agency’s budget to “the largest ever,” he boasted.

The bill includes money for veterans’ health care and provides a $1.1 billion increase to pay for efforts to give veterans more freedom to see doctors outside the VA system.

“To every veteran here today: We are eternally grateful for your noble service to our nation,” Trump said. “And we’re fighting to make sure that you get the care that you so richly earned.”

VFW Legislative Director Carlos Fuentes hailed the bill.

“It’s not perfect, but it’s a full year appropriation, it’s an increase from previous years and specifically includes funding the VA Mission Act,” which will increase access to care for veterans and should speed up payments.

The other two bills Trump signed appropriated money to fund the Energy Department and the legislative branch, including Congress and the Capitol police. Congress last week approved the $147 billion package of bills as part of an effort to head off a government shutdown.

Contact Debra J. Saunders at dsaunders@reviewjournal.com or at 202-662-7391. Follow @DebraJSaunders on Twitter.

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