Today, Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3) offered an amendment to exempt the federal agencies that provide support to our nation's veterans from workforce cuts that could increase delays and reduce services. The amendment was defeated in Committee along party lines.
Yarmuth offered the amendment during the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee mark-up of H.R. 3029, the Reducing the Size of the Federal Government Through Attrition Act of 2011. This Republican-authored legislation will require an arbitrary 10 percent reduction in the size of the federal government's workforce by 2015 by allowing agencies to hire only one employee for every three who leave federal service. As tens of thousands of men and women return from conflicts overseas and enter the VA system, this legislation could dramatically reduce the resources and staff committed to ensure veterans and their survivors receive compensation, education, health coverage, and other benefits.
"Since I first arrived in Congress, my office has handled more than one thousand cases for local veterans - and the vast majority of those were people asking for help because agencies already did not have the resources to answer their questions or solve their problems," said Congressman Yarmuth. "The men and women who fight to protect our country overseas should never have to battle to receive the compensation and benefits they not only deserve but earned."
There are currently more than 21.9 million veterans in the United States. Nearly 3 million men and women currently serve as active duty or active reserve personnel.
Yarmuth's amendment would have prevented staff reductions at agencies that provide services to veterans and ensured they at least maintain current workforce levels in the face of an influx of veterans who have served during the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
H.R. 3029 was approved by the Oversight and Government Reform Committee and is likely to advance to the House floor soon.