Today, Congressman Joe Baca (D-Rialto) attended a press conference with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Members to discuss the 110th Congress's actions to move America in a new direction, and pas vital legislation that puts America's troops and returning veterans first. This week, Rep. Baca joined a bipartisan majority in the House of Representatives to pass vital that extends permanent tax relief to our troops and military families, authorizes major veterans' medical facility construction projects, and provides a cost-of-living adjustment for service-connected disability compensation rates for veterans.
"No group of Americans has stood more proudly for our country than our nation's veterans," said Rep. Baca. "Actions speak louder than words. We owe our veterans much more than a simple thank you. With the critical legislation passed this week, the House of Representatives is working to fulfill our promise to provide America's veterans with the best benefits and care possible."
One of the bills passed this week, the Heroes Earnings Assistance and Relief Tax (HEART) Act, makes essential tax reliefs permanent for our military families. The legislation includes provisions to provide relief under the Earned Income Tax Credit, provide incentives to make sure that reservists called up for active duty do not suffer a pay cut, clarify the availability of recovery rebates for military families, and expand homeownership opportunities for veterans.
"During the current economic downturn, providing tax relief assistance to our troops and military families is more appropriate than ever," added Rep. Baca. "The key provisions of the HEART Act will hopefully make it a little easier for our service men and women to deal with the rising costs of everything from food and gasoline, to healthcare and education."
In addition to the HEART Act, the House also passed critical legislation this week to:
* Expand and improve health care services available to veterans who suffer with substance abuse issues;
* Authorize major medical facility projects and major medical facility leases for the Department of Veterans Affairs for fiscal year 2009;
* Require the Veterans Affairs Department to reimburse veterans who receive emergency treatment in non-VA facilities;
* Provide a cost of living increase for veterans' disability benefits and to dependency and indemnity compensation for veterans' families; and
* Provide comprehensive health care to children of Vietnam veterans born with Spina Bifida.
"The Democratic Congress has been proactive in caring for our veterans," concluded Rep. Baca. "Thanks to the strong leadership of Speaker Pelosi, we have already provided the largest increase in veterans' health care funding in the 77 year history of the VA. As the Memorial Day Holiday approaches, we renew our promise to honor the service of our brave troops and veterans. We must all work to ensure those who keep America free are never forgotten or taken for granted."
Rep. Baca is a veteran who served in the U.S. Army as a paratrooper with both the 101st and the 82nd Airborne Divisions from 1966-68.