By Dan Nowicki and Rebekah L. Sanders
It's not easy for a Democrat to push legislation to a vote in the GOP-controlled House, much less have it pass. But that's what U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick did twice in two days.
Kirkpatrick's legislation benefited by focusing on less controversial issues and gaining bipartisan support.
Her amendment to a Department of Defense funding bill passed unanimously Friday.
Kirkpatrick represents the sprawling, rural District 1, which includes Flagstaff, the White Mountains, parts of Pinal county and Tucson suburbs.
The legislation aims to reduce the backlog of benefits claims at the Department of Veterans Affairs by directing the Pentagon to quickly and electronically provide to the agency veterans' complete service-treatment records upon discharge. Both Republicans and Democrats have been supportive of fixing the VA's backlog by 2015.
"This is an important step toward eliminating the claims backlog so veterans can receive the care and resources they deserve," Kirkpatrick said in a written statement.
Kirkpatrick's second bill passed 395-1 on Monday. It deals with a small land issue in northern Arizona and received Republican support from her Arizona colleague, Rep. Paul Gosar, a co-sponsor of the bill and former Kirkpatrick campaign rival.
The legislation would correct a 40-year-old land-survey error that placed 25 private properties near Flagstaff inside the boundaries of U.S. Forest Service land, leaving homeowners in ownership limbo.
A similar bill passed the House last year but died in the Senate where it was never brought up for a vote.