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Public Statements

Veterans' Benefits Enhancement Act of 2008

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


VETERANS' BENEFITS ENHANCEMENT ACT OF 2008 -- (House of Representatives - September 22, 2008)

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. FILNER. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I forgot to say on the last bill that my colleagues from California, Mr. Rohrabacher and Mr. Issa, are strongly supportive of it, and will participate, I'm sure, in helping us get the required votes to pass this bill.

S. 1315, I first want to point out, is amended. It was and is still a comprehensive bill that will help millions of our veterans, including recently wounded and transitioning OIF/OEF veterans.

What we have done to amend it is to move this from a mandatory spending bill to a discretionary spending bill by removing all of the mandatory provisions and also the PAYGO provisions that have caused so much controversy. So now we have a bill that will continue this Congress' unprecedented record of putting our veterans first and making them a top priority.

This bill would potentially provide extensive benefits to all of our Nation's veterans in the areas of insurance, disability compensation, education, pension, housing, and other critical VA benefits. The bill would only invoke discretionary spending and would not require an offset under the PAYGO rules adopted by this Congress.

This bill would ensure that permanently disabled servicemembers who are hospitalized and receiving medical care and treatment can receive structural alterations to their homes before they come home. I think this is a provision that Mr. Stearns mentioned as one of the high priority items in his previous list.

It also would ensure that so-called State approving agencies, and the Departments of Labor and Education and other Federal agencies collaborate to improve the efficiency of education benefits for our servicemembers and veterans, as well as establish outcome-oriented performance standards for the administration of our new GI bill benefits.

It would better enable Congress to provide adequate oversight of the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, while allowing this highly specialized court to maintain its discretion to administer fair justice for our veterans filing appeals of VA decisions.

I want to state again, for the Record, that this bill does not require any mandatory spending, and veterans may stand to benefit if it is passed and ultimately enacted. I hope people will take a look at the new bill and see it as a comprehensive veterans bill that will help veterans in all of our districts. I urge my colleagues to give this bill support.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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