I wanted to provide you with a quick update on my work with the House Veterans' Affairs Committee. You may not hear about it on the news, but we're continuing to take major bipartisan action to address issues that our veterans face across the board - including ensuring timely medical care, reliable child care, and increased education and job opportunities.
This week, we passed 12 bills to ensure veterans receive the treatment they have earned and deserve, once they come home. Take a look:
1. A bill to authorize appropriations for the Veterans Choice Program, and for other purposes (S. 114)
- What it does: Provides additional funding to continue the VA Choice Program for six months while Congress works on other reforms to the Choice Program.
- Why it matters: Reforms to the VA Choice Program are essential to continuing to allow our nation’s heroes to access care from providers outside the VA.
2. Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 (H.R. 3218)
- What it does: Reforms and modernizes the GI Bill, including my legislation to expand greater accessibility to GI Bill educational benefits for servicemembers in the Guard and Reserve components of our Armed Forces.
- Why it matters: Expanding veterans’ access to education and workforce training will help ease their transition from active duty to civilian life.
3. Military Residency Choice Act (H.R. 282)
- What it does: Ensures that all spouses of servicemembers are able to maintain the same state of residency as their active duty husband or wife, regardless of when they were married.
- Why it matters: This bill eases the burden placed on military spouses when their family is relocated, which can make taxation and voting matters more complex for military families.
4. VA Provider Equity Act (H.R. 1058)
- What it does: This bill that I introduced puts podiatrists at the VA on a level playing field with their physician peers and improves recruitment and retention of experienced and high-quality podiatrists.
- Why it matters: Veterans are facing increased lower extremity injuries - as well as higher wait times for podiatric care. Our veterans deserve the highest quality treatment from the most experienced medical professionals, and my legislation will give VA the tools it needs to hire and employ the best and brightest - and improve access to quality podiatric care.
5. Department of Veterans' Affairs Bonus Transparency Act (H.R. 1690)
- What it does: Requires the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) to submit an annual report to Congress on the bonuses awarded to VA senior executives.
- Why it matters: This bill ensures the VA is acting in the best interest of taxpayers, and the heroes it was created to serve.
6. VA Procurement Efficiency and Transparency Act (H.R. 2006)
- What it does: Encourages efficiency and transparency in VA’s procurement process by creating a uniform system for calculating the department’s savings from competition when awarding contracts.
- Why it matters: By encouraging competition when awarding procurement contracts, this bill helps the VA generate financial savings.
7. VA Senior Executive Accountability Act (H.R. 2772)
- What it does: In the past, VA senior executives have used their leadership positions as leverage to be reassigned to another position for their own personal gain. This bill improves transparency by requiring the VA to inform Congress about where senior executives are being moved.
- Why it matters: We need greater transparency and accountability to make sure taxpayer dollars are being spent efficiently and effectively at the VA.
8. Ensuring Veteran Enterprise Participation in Strategic Sourcing Act (H.R. 2781)
- What it does: Closes an unfair contract loophole by directing the VA to work with the General Services Administration (GSA) to increase the number of Service-Disable Veteran and Veteran-Owned Small Businesses holding the GSA contracts.
- Why it matters: This bill increases opportunities for small businesses owned by veterans or service-disabled veterans in VA contracting.
9. Protecting Business Opportunities for Veterans Act of 2017 (H.R. 2749)
- What it does: Protects Service-Disabled Veteran and Veteran-Owned Small Businesses that play by the VA contract rules from bad actors that abuse the system.
- Why it matters: Veteran-owned small businesses should be able to operate on a level playing field.
10. Grow Our Own Directive: Physician Assistant Employment and Education Act of 2017 (H.R. 3262)
- What it does: Creates a pilot program to provide veterans with medical or military health experience and the necessary education to become physician assistants at the VA.
- Why it matters: The VA system is suffering from staffing shortages, particularly for physician assistants. This legislation addresses these shortages and also provides veterans with increased opportunities for a career in healthcare
11. Veterans’ Access to Child Care Act (H.R. 95)
- What it does: Provides access to child care for veterans receiving mental health services and other intensive health care services at VA facilities.
- Why it matters: Parents who serve as the primary care taker of a child shouldn’t have to sacrifice their own health.
12. Veterans' Affairs Medical Scribe Pilot Act of 2017 (H.R. 1848)
- What it does: Creates a two-year medical scribes pilot program under which VA will increase the use of medical scribes at ten VA medical centers.
- Why it matters: Increases efficiency of VA medical practice, putting scribes in charge of patient data, and allowing for physicians to be more focused on patient care.
I’ll keep you posted as I continue to lead on these issues through my role as Chairman of the Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health. Our vets are our heroes – we need to make sure they are treated as such.