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Introduction of the Veterans Legal Support Act of 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Ms. NORTON. Mr. Speaker, at a time when 900,000 veterans and 5,000 active duty service members face Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program cuts, I introduce a bill to allow the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to provide financial support to law school clinical programs that provide pro bono legal and support services to veterans, including, among other things, assistance with disability claims and appeals and foreclosures. The enormous backlog of disability claims at the VA and homelessness among veterans remain critical problems for our veterans. Approximately 107,000 veterans are homeless on any given night in this country and over 600,000 veterans are waiting for their disability claims to be processed by the VA. Providing clinical programs with the resources to assist veterans can result in faster processing of claims and quicker housing assistance to our veterans, who have repeatedly put their lives on the line for this country.

This bill, introduced by my colleagues Senators JEANNE SHAHEEN, AMY KLOBUCHAR and Chris Murphy in the Senate, would allow the VA to work with and support clinical programs for veterans. This bill merely builds on what some law schools have begun to do for the last several years while providing vital legal services to our veterans and reducing the backlog that has plagued the VA for many years. However, more needs to be done to sustain these programs and to recruit and retain qualified attorneys to supervise law students.

Mr. Speaker, just as we honored our veterans on Veterans Day, I urge my colleagues to support this bill, which would further honor and assist our veterans in their daily lives.

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