Agent Orange Bill Stalls in Committee

Agent Orange Bill Stalls in Committee 
The House Veterans Affairs Committee (HVAC) scheduled a Committee vote on the “Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act” (H.R.299) this week. It did not occur when HVAC members could not agree if the bill should be paid for by rounding down veteran’s benefit checks to the nearest dollar. First reported in the July 28 Newsbytes, HVAC Chairman Roe (Tenn.) offered to have a committee vote if the bill could be amended to round down veteran’s monthly benefits to pay for the bill.  Roe said, “We owe it to our brave veterans who served off the coast of Vietnam, to pass this bill. I have close friends who died in Vietnam. I can’t go to another Veteran’s Day ceremony without at least trying to get this bill approved.”  Roe continued “I have spoken to many veterans who said they would be willing to give up less than a dollar a month to do right by Blue Water Navy veterans, and I imagine many veterans around the country feel the same way.”  
HVAC Ranking Member Tim Walz (Minn.), one of the five original co-sponsors of the bill, argued that a round-down bill is bad policy. “Asking one group of veterans to pay for another group of veterans’ benefits is not only bad policy, it is the wrong answer for all veterans. That is why finding the funds to pay for this bill outside the VA budget in is absolutely critical. I will continue to call on Chairman Roe to make that happen.”  Walz claimed HVAC passed and the House approved veteran’s legislation without spending offsets. He claimed the 2014 VA Choice program and the 2008 Post 911 GI Bill passed without spending offsets. He further argued we should not cut veterans benefits while we enact tax cuts for the rich. Due to the partisan split the Chairman did not call the bill for a vote.  
The committee did approve the following bills:
• H.R.1900 to designate a museum in Columbus, Ohio, as the National Veterans Memorial and Museum
• H.R.2123 to improve treatment of veterans through telemedicine
• H.R.1133 and H.R. 2601 to improve organ transplants at the VA
• H.R.3634 to ensure veterans using the Post 911 GI Bill can access documentation verifying monthly housing stipend
• H.R.3705 requires VA to use certified mail and plain language in debt collection activities
• H.R.4173 requires VA to do a study of the Veterans Crisis Line 
FRA wants to thank Shipmates for calling committee members and using the Action Center to contact elected officials. The Association will continue to work for passage of “Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act.” 

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of FRA.

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