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Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act, 2009

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

MILITARY CONSTRUCTION AND VETERANS AFFAIRS APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2009

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Mr. BARROW. I thank the gentleman for yielding.

Mr. Chairman, first of all, I want to commend Mr. Stupak for his work on this issue over the years. Like Mr. Stupak, I have been working to restore the full veteran mileage reimbursement benefits since I got to Congress, and the deductible is a big part of the problem. I won't be satisfied until we get rid of the deductible altogether, and this is a big step in the right direction.

Last year the House adopted my bill, the Disabled Veterans Fairness Act, as an amendment to the Wounded Warriors Assistance Act. My bill would completely eliminate the deductible and fully restore the reimbursement rate to the level paid to Federal civil servants. But the other body wouldn't go along. As a result, the reimbursement rate was raised from 11 cents per mile to 28.5 cents per mile, the first increase in 30 years. However, the secretary of the VA increased the deductible from $6 a round trip to $15 a round trip.

Under this bill, all veterans who currently get a travel expense reimbursement will get an increase from 28.5 cents per mile to 41.5 cents per mile. This amendment will prevent the secretary of the VA from taking any of that back by increasing the deductible. We ought to do a better job taking care of those who gave us the best years of their lives taking care of us.

This change won't completely close the gap between what has been promised and what has been delivered, but it will definitely help. That's what our amendment will do, that's why it's a good idea, and that's why I urge all of my colleagues to vote for it.

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