Walden Urges Passage of Veterans Spending Bill ASAP
Walden cosponors bill to provide critical health care and benefits to America's veterans, projects for Second District
Speaking before a community potluck organized by the Ladies Auxiliary VFW in The Dalles, Congressman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) today expressed disappointment that Congress has yet to pass a funding bill for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and called on House and Senate leaders to send a bill to the President that funds veterans' health care and benefits. Earlier in the morning, Congressman Walden participated in the Mid-Columbia Veterans Day Parade, also in The Dalles.
Congressman Walden released the following statement on the need for Congress to pass a Military Construction and VA appropriations bill as soon as possible.
"Every day Congress fails to send a VA bill to the President, the veterans health care system is shortchanged by approximately $18.5 million in additional resources. There is overwhelming support in both chambers for a standalone VA bill that supports our veterans. Why Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid refuse to take action and send a bill to the President is beyond me. Their inaction, especially so late in the year, is unacceptable. Our veterans deserve better from Congress.
"Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid should immediately bring up the bill that I cosponsored, H.R. 4014, which provides record funding for VA hospitals and clinics and includes increases in funding for research of conditions like Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This bill funds important projects across our district, like the Oregon National Guard Readiness Center in Ontario, renovations at the outpatient clinic in La Grande, and the design for an Armed Forces Reserve Center in Klamath Falls and a Readiness Center here in The Dalles. It provides the needed resources to hire 1,800 new claims processors to address the 400,000 benefit-claims backlog. And it would increase the reimbursement rate to 28.5 cents per mile from 11 cents per mile for veterans traveling to and from appointments for medical care.
"The men and women in uniform put everything on the line for us and deserve the very best care when they return home. They must know that no matter what, the American people will support them and will never forget the debt we owe them. Congress should show its support for America's veterans as soon as we return to work on Tuesday."
The House initially passed a VA bill on June 15 and the Senate passed a similar version on September 6. Yet the leaders of the House and Senate have still refused to organize a conference to send a final, clean and standalone version of the bill to the President. Instead, the Democratic House leadership combined it with legislation this week that funds other federal departments. That bill was immediately killed in the Senate because it combined two unrelated pieces of legislation.
Walden has already sent letters to Speaker Pelosi and Leader Reid, which are attached, that urge them to take final and decisive action on behalf of America's veterans. The bill cosponsored by Congressman Walden, H.R. 4014, is clean, standalone bill that funds the VA and provides the following:
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