SENATE IS A GRAVEYARD FOR VETERANS
HOUSE PASSES BILLS THAT DIE IN SENATE
Bills for Homeless Vets and Dying Vets
Reach a Dead End in U.S. Senate
Americans Called Upon to Rally and Put Veterans First!
The 33rd President of the United States famously said, “If you want a friend in Washington, get yourself a dog.” In 1948, when Harry Truman ran for President in his own right, nobody gave him a chance. He originated the whistle stop campaign and running against the “Do Nothing Congress.”
One day while giving a speech from the caboose of the train, someone in the audience yelled, “Give ‘em hell, Harry!” The President responded: “I just tell them the truth and to them it feels like hell.”
What goes with the soon departing 115th Congress??? Because of the makeup of 535 Members in the Senate and House, getting legislation passed is like trying to nail jelly to the wall.
Former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott wrote a book about this called “Herding Cats.”
The record of the 115th Congress on issues affecting our nation’s 21 million veterans is especially abysmal. The most recent failure is the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2017 that failed to clear the Senate. The House previously passed it 382-0.
The bill would extend eligibility benefits for Vietnam Veterans who were aboard naval vessels and exposed to Agent Orange. The Department of Dense and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) took well over a decade to acknowledge that dioxin-laden herbicide had been found to cause respiratory cancers, Parkinson’s disease, and other serious ailments.
The Secretary of the VA is still against it!!! A couple of Senators held up unanimous consent to pass this legislation. Their major reason? The cost; the cost being a total of ½ of 1% of the VA budget for the next 10 years!!!! The yearly $200 million budget of the VA, if converted to one dollar bills and placed end to end, would circle the globe over 500 times!!!!!!!
The U.S. Senate has been the graveyard for a series of bills that could have greatly helped our American Veterans, especially homeless veterans. The Center for American Homeless Veterans encourages the Senate to consider the following pieces of legislation.
Several important bills passed the House but have been languishing in the Senate.
The Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Program Improvement Act, introduced by Rep. Brad Wenstrup, would allow eligible homeless veterans, including those who are participants of the HUD-VASH voucher program, to also be eligible for other services. Currently, HUD-VASH participants are not allowed to also participate in the VA’s Homeless Veteran Reintegration Program. However, a major part of helping homeless veterans get back on their feet is through job training programs.
Passed by the House; referred to Senate on May 22, 2018
The VA Billing Accountability Act, introduced by Rep. Lloyd Smucker, would allow the VA to waive veterans’ copayments for certain health care costs if the veteran did not receive notification, or received delayed notification longer than 120 days after care, of a copayment being due.
· There were 1,482 cases (at 1 VA facility alone between 2011-2015) of veterans not receiving a bill or being undercharged for services.
· The facility then tried to recoup the costs by increasing the patient’s monthly billing statement.
· This bill would increase VA accountability and ensure veterans receive timely notification of payments owed.
Passed by the House; referred to Senate on May 22, 2018
The Veterans Crisis Line Study Act of 2017, introduced by Rep. Jim Banks, would require a study of the Veterans Crisis Line (VCL).
· A 2016 report on veteran suicide showed 20 veterans per day take their life – 22% higher than non-veterans.
· 2016 VA Inspector General and 2016 Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports called the VCL’s operations and quality into question.
· This bill would provide needed research on the effectiveness of the Veterans Crisis Line.
Passed by the House; referred to Senate on November 9, 2017
H.R. 2006: The VA Procurement Efficiency and Transparency Act
The VA Procurement Efficiency and Transparency Act, introduced by Rep. Mike Coffman, would improve transparency within the VA’s procurement process by creating a standardized way to calculate savings, notably when awarding contracts. This bill would ensure uniform calculations to ensure the highest levels of efficiency.
Passed by the House; referred to Senate on July 25, 2017
The VA Accountability First Act of 2017, introduced by Chairman Phil Roe, would provide the VA Secretary with authority to fire VA employees for performance issues.
· A 2015 GAO study found that it takes 6 months or longer, on average, to get rid of a federal government permanent civil servant.
· VA Deputy Secretary, Sloan Gibson, testified at a hearing that it was “too hard to fire bad employees at the VA.”
Passed by the House; referred to Senate on March 21, 2017
The following bill passed the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs but has not moved to a full vote:
H.R. 6066, introduced by Rep. Brad Wenstrup, would increase the accountability of VA service providers and the quality of care at VA health centers.
· A 2015 study found that VA specialty providers were not as productive as private industry counterparts.
· A 2017 GAO report found that the VA cannot address low productivity issues as there is no uniformed system for measuring productivity at individual facilities.
Give Them the Hell They Deserve!
What to do? First off, concerned citizens can call the offices of two Senators who opposed the Blue Water Navy bill and give them HELL:
· Mike Enzi (R-WY) at 202-224-3424; and
· Mike Lee (R-UT) at 202-224-5444.
During the war in Vietnam alone, over 58,000 service members paid the ultimate price. How many more are now paying the ultimate price because of the Do Nothing Senate? Public opinion is sovereign in our great country. Standing up to our representatives can make a difference, and the Center for American Homeless Veterans encourages you to find out who your Senator is at www.senate.gov and “give them Hell” like Harry would have done.
The Center for American Homeless Veterans is a national nonprofit organization that fulfills its mission by advocating to the public and Congress about the needs and solutions for American Veterans, with an emphasis on those left behind, such as homeless and disabled veterans. By molding public opinion, CAHV helps shape public policy.
Brian Hampton is President of the Center for American Homeless Veterans. After successfully completing 23 ½ weeks of Infantry Officer Candidate training at Ft. Benning, GA, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant. He completed Jungle Warfare training in the Panama Canal Zone and then served a year in Vietnam. Among other assignments, he served three tours at both the Pentagon and at Ft. Bragg. He is a retired Major with the Active Army Reserve.