VETERANS SMALL BUSINESS AND MEMORIAL AFFAIRS ACT OF 2006 -- (House of Representatives - July 24, 2006)
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
Mr. SALAZAR. Madam Speaker, I yield myself as much time as I may consume.
I rise today in strong support of H.R. 3082, as amended, the Veterans Small Business Administration and Memorial Affairs Act of 2006. This bill incorporates a host of important measures aimed at improving employment and small business opportunities for servicemembers and veterans, as well as provisions to enhance the VA's capability to honorably memorialize our fallen soldiers and heroes and comfort their families.
I would like to thank Chairman Buyer and Ranking Member Lane Evans for their leadership in the full committee, as well as all of my colleagues on the full committee for their assistance in moving this bill to the floor today.
I especially want to express my appreciation to the chairman and ranking member of the Economic Opportunity Subcommittee, Congressman John Boozman of Arkansas and Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth of South Dakota, for all their hard work and bipartisan leadership on the subcommittee this session.
I look forward to the committee beginning discussions with the Senate to ensure passage of a bipartisan, bicameral veterans' benefits package for this year. I know that the veterans of my State of Colorado and all the veterans of this great country will appreciate the important benefits and memorial improvements that we have included in this legislative measure.
Madam Speaker, H.R. 3082, as amended, incorporates important provisions from a number of Members interested in improving the quality of life of our veterans. Specifically, this legislation would provide greater incentives for the Department of Veterans Affairs to continue to improve its performance with respect to contracting with veteran-owned small businesses.
It would enhance employment counseling, job training and credentialing services for servicemembers transitioning out of the military and seeking to enter the civilian workforce. The legislation also seeks to improve the veterans' education claims processing system.
Additionally, in the area of memorial affairs, the bill would authorize the VA to provide State cemetery grants to tribal governments seeking to establish, expand or improve State veterans' cemeteries. And finally, it would make permanent the VA's authority to provide headstones and markers for veterans interred in private cemeteries.
Madam Speaker, the VA National Cemetery Administration consistently ranks as one of the best agencies in government. We, in Congress, must continue to do all we can to assist NCA to remain at the top.
Madam Speaker, I support H.R. 3082, as amended, and appreciate the work of the committee and the staff in developing these measures in a bipartisan and professional manner. The servicemembers, veterans and military families of this Nation have earned and deserve our best efforts here in Congress. Indeed, they deserve even more.
I urge all the Members to support this legislation.
Madam Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT