This Week, Patrick Murphy Passes Three Pieces of Legislation On Behalf of Veterans
8th District Congressman and Iraq War Veteran Passes Two Original Pieces of Legislation in Addition to Another Historic Boost in Veterans Funding
This week, Pennsylvania Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-8th District) continued his commitment to his fellow veterans, by voting to pass three pieces of legislation aimed at supporting those who wore the uniform of our country. Two of the three bills were introduced by Rep. Murphy and all passed with wide, bipartisan support. Murphy, the only Iraq war veteran in Congress, introduced the "21st Century Servicemembers Protection Act" last August, and it was passed by the full House of Representatives as part of H.R. 6225, the Injunctive Relief for Veterans Act of 2008 late last night. Also last night, Murphy passed a bill that he introduced to improve voting access to disabled veterans. The third bill, which he helped pass just today, boosts funding for veterans health care and follows other historic measures of the last year that increased funding for the VA by the largest amount ever - $6.7 billion - and a new GI Bill for a new generation of American heroes.
"As we continue to send a new generation into harm's way, it is our duty to protect these brave troops and do right by their families," said Congressman Patrick Murphy. "I am so proud, that as a fellow veteran, I can introduce and help pass legislation that continues our commitment to those who serve our country. My pieces of legislation and the historic boost in veterans funding passed with wide bipartisan support because this is not a Democratic or Republican issue. This is about doing what's right for our troops."
About Murphy's Bills
The 21st Century Servicemembers Protection Act expands the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) for the 21st century. The SCRA and the legislation that preceded it are decades-old laws that provide crucial financial protection for deployed Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Coast Guardsmen and Marines. Murphy's measure modernizes SCRA for the financial obligations faced by today's troops - specifically to cover service contracts such as cellular phone service, car insurance, utilities, cable television, or internet access. Similar to provisions now governing residential leases and automobile leases, this legislation would allow troops with deployment orders to terminate or suspend their service contracts without fee or penalty. It would also allow troops to retain their phone numbers, help them protect their credit rating and keep them free from the harassment of collection agencies while deployed.
The legislation also adds penalties up to $10,000 for creditors who knowingly or negligently refuse to reduce interest rates upon notification from a soldier with deployment orders. Murphy introduced this bill so that our troops can focus on accomplishing their mission and keeping themselves safe, without worrying about whether their internet or cellular phone provider is ruining their credit.
Murphy's legislation has been endorsed by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), the Association of the United States Army (AUSA), the Reserve Officers Association (ROA), the Fleet Reserve Association (FRA), the National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS), and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA).
The other piece of legislation Murphy passed this week helps improve access to voting for disabled veterans. Passed in an amendment to the Military Construction Veterans Affairs Appropriations Bill, Murphy's measure would prohibit funds from being used to enforce the VA's misguided policy of disallowing nonpartisan voter registration drives at VA facilities. Nonpartisan voter registration drives performed by non-partisan groups, such as election administration offices, should be allowed to assist the men and women at VA facilities to participate in the democracy they risked their lives defending.
Another Historic Boost in Veterans FundingToday, Congressman Murphy voted to pass another much needed funding increase for American veterans. This builds on last year's largest ever increase in the Veterans' Administration and a new GI Bill for veterans who have served since 9/11.
* The bipartisan Military Construction Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill expands access to and strengthens the quality of veterans' health care for 5.8 million patients, including 333,000 veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.
* This historic boost increases by 10 percent, enrollment in VA medical care for veterans making as little as $28,430.
* It strengthens mental health care for the growing number of veterans with PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury by providing $3.8 billion for the two signature injuries of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
* It provides veterans with advanced prosthetics.
* It boosts maintenance at VA medical facilities in order to prevent another situation like the Walter Reed-like tragedy.
* It increases the gas mileage reimbursement by 13 cents per mile for veterans who have to travel long distances to get health care.
* It expands access to fee-based care for veterans in areas where the VA does not offer services. It improves housing, health care, day care and training facilities.