This weekend, we pause to honor the sacrifice that thousands of our veterans have made in service of our great nation.
For all of us, they are heroes; for millions of Americans, they are parents, brothers and sisters, friends and neighbors. Together, as one nation, we honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice on our behalf, never to return to the country they served. In Congress, we must treat every day as Memorial Day. By our actions and our laws, we must remember all who pay any price and bear any burden in the name of our freedom, our values, our security, our communities. We must continue to serve all who serve us -- those who died and those who came safely home.
Just this week, House Republicans blocked a vote on a Democratic proposal to address the growing problem of Veterans Administration backlog of claims.
The VA claims backlog is a challenge to the conscience of our country. Our proposal tackles the challenge head on by enabling us to serve our veterans as well as they have served us.
Our measure calls for a vote on the "Veterans Backlog Reduction Act" to provide disability compensation for all claims pending for more than 125 days at a 40 percent rating.
This is a necessary first step in a broader legislative package to work with the VA to reduce and eliminate the backlog by 2015.
With Memorial Day around the corner, we reaffirm our solemn promise: just as the military pledges to leave no one behind on the battlefield, we will leave no veteran behind when they come home.
Making College More Expensive?
On July 1, the interest rate on federal subsidized Stafford student loans is set to double to 6.8 percent. Instead of acting to ease costs on hardworking students and families, House Republicans passed a bill that increases student debt by $4 billion and leads to uncertainty in the amount a student owes each year.
No matter what they try to call it, their bill's true title is clear: the Making College More Expensive Act. Their legislation resets the variable interest rate on student loans each year, so a freshman may start with a low rate, but may not get to keep that interest rate for the life of the loan. It would change every year just like predatory adjustable rate mortgages.
The last thing America's middle class families and students need is more debt and economic insecurity. Our Democratic proposal continues to allow college students to benefit from historically low interest rates by freezing the current, low 3.4 percent rate on subsidized Stafford loans for the next two years, and keeps other education loan rates stable. As student loan debt continues to soar, now is the time students should be focusing on their books, not fluctuating interest rates.
Celebrating Harvey Milk Day
This week, we recall the courage, idealism, and hope of Harvey Milk. We remember his leadership for equal rights and his pursuit of justice. We remain inspired by his declaration, when sworn in as a San Francisco Supervisor, that his victory gave a "green light' to all who felt disenfranchised and opened doors of opportunity for everyone.
As we celebrated Harvey Milk Day on May 22nd -- on what would have been his 83rd birthday -- we know Harvey's green light has opened doors for LGBT elected officials nationwide: from America's first LGBT Senator in Tammy Baldwin to six LGBT Members of the House, each contributing their leadership to the most diverse Democratic Caucus in history. These Members are a living testament to Harvey's principle that LGBT people deserve a place at the table.
San Francisco takes pride in its connection to Harvey Milk's trailblazing leadership for compassion and civil rights. Today, Harvey's legacy lives on in our ongoing drive to end injustice and inequality throughout our nation, and to make marriage equality the law of the land. The cause of his life remains our fight right now: to give a green light to LGBT Americans and every American for justice, for fairness, for opportunity for all.
Looking Forward to Super Bowl 50!
Like so many in the Bay Area, I was thrilled to learn that we have been chosen by the NFL to host Super Bowl L. I know that our community will be the toast of the nation as we welcome one of the world's greatest events. The Bay Area is unsurpassed in our beauty, efficiency, and hospitality. As Franklin Roosevelt once said, "When San Franciscans set out to do something, I think they do it better than anybody else in the world."
I could not agree more.
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Member of Congress