As more than 8,000 Arizonans in the defense industry face furloughs beginning this week thanks to the Budget Control Act's sequestration provision, Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva highlighted his record of support for active and retired military personnel and pointed to collapsing support for austerity economics across the country. The sequester went into effect in March of this year and is expected to cost the economy at least 750,000 jobs, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
Grijalva, who voted against the Budget Control Act of 2011 and has opposed the sequester from the beginning, called on House Republicans to reject austerity economics as a proven failure and pointed to the collection of bills he has supported this Congress to improve the lives of current and former soldiers.
"The men and women who will take home less pay, have less money to save for their families, and who will face reduced economic opportunity because of the sequester aren't interested in Washington excuses," Grijalva said. "The people who voted for this cannot have it both ways. They either didn't take the time to realize this would happen when they got their way, or they knew it and supported the sequester anyway. Neither explanation holds much water when you're told you won't receive a paycheck this week or when your claims aren't being processed."
Grijalva pointed out that assistance efforts like the Army Wounded Warrior Program, Marine for Life, Navy Safe Harbor and military health care programs are staffed by civilians, some of whom could be furloughed in Arizona and elsewhere around the country.
Rep. Grijalva recently agreed to cosponsor each of the following bills to address veterans benefit issues and the VA backlog.
H.R. 1623 (the VA Claims Efficiency Through Information Act) by Rep. Gloria Negrete-McLeod requires the VA to better detail the backlog, timeliness and accuracy of VA regional offices and their relative ability to adjudicate specific medical conditions.
H.R.1759 (the Require Detailed Reporting on VA Information Requests to Federal Agencies Act) by Rep. Raul Ruiz requires the VA to track all information requests to other federal entities and to provide quarterly updates to Congress in regards to the timeliness of other agencies in fulfilling their information requests. Veterans' claims are often untimely because the VA is waiting for other agencies to provide information.
H.R. 1809 by Rep. Beto O'Rourke educates veterans on how to increase the timeliness of their benefits claims.
H.R.1824 (the VA Regional Office Accountability Act) by Rep. Grace Meng requires annual reports on VA regional offices that are not meeting their timeliness and accuracy goals. Reports would explain why an office did not meet the goal, what it needs to meet it, and how failure to meet the goal was considered in regards to the VARO Director's performance appraisal.
H.R. 1980 (the Quicker Veterans Benefits Delivery Act) by Rep. Tim Walz directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs not to request a full VA medical examination when a benefits claimant submits private medical evidence that is competent and credible for rating purposes, thereby conserving resources and enabling quicker, more accurate rating decisions for veterans.
H.R. 2088 (the Claims Adjudication Centers of Excellence Act) by Rep. Mike Michaud requires the Veterans Benefits Administration to specialize claims processing by condition, reduce the time it takes to adjudicate difficult conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, and decrease the error rates on difficult claims.