News from DC, December 8, 2019

CONGRESS

This past Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 4803, the Citizenship for Children of Military Members and Civil Servants Act (sponsored by Rep. Nadler (D-NY)).

 This bill amends the Immigration and Nationality Act to recognize as “residing in the United States,” children who are residing in the legal and physical custody of a U.S. citizen parent who is (1) stationed abroad as an employee of the federal government or as a member of the U.S. armed forces; or (2) residing in marital union with such an employee or member.  This will allow lawful permanent resident children born outside the United States who are unable to establish U.S. residency because of a parent’s overseas service commitment, to be automatically recognized as U.S. citizens.

PASSED THE HOUSE BY VOICE VOTE.

 (Related) Floor statement by Rep. Nadler  

_____________

Last week, the Senate Armed Services Committee held a subcommittee hearing on: “Servicemember, Family, and Veteran Suicides and Prevention Strategies.”  Video and witness testimonies can be viewed here.

This upcoming week, the House Armed Services Committee will hold a subcommittee hearing on: “Diversity in Recruiting and Retention: Increasing Diversity in the Military – What the Military Services are Doing.”

Witnesses:

 

Lieutenant General Thomas C. Seamands, USA
Deputy Chief of Staff, G-1
United States Army 

Vice Admiral John B. Nowell, Jr., USN
Chief of Naval Personnel
United States Navy

 Lieutenant General Brian T. Kelly, USAF
Deputy Chief of Staff for Manpower, Personnel and Services
United States Air Force

 Lieutenant General Michael A. Rocco, USMC
Deputy Commandant for Manpower and Reserve Affairs
United States Marine Corps

_____________

Rep. Cisneros (D-CA-39) introduced H.R. 5282, the Military Family Parole in Place Act. This bill [bill text not yet publicly available to view] would protect the family of veterans and members of the U.S. Armed Forces from the threat of deportation. Specifically, the Act would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act and preserve the parole in place (PIP) program, requiring the Secretary of Homeland Security to grant parole in one-year increments to parents, children, spouses, and widow or widowers of servicemembers and veterans who were not dishonorably discharged. Sen. Duckworth (D-IL) has introduced companion legislation in the Senate.

Sen. Sinema (D-AZ) introduced S. 2864, the Sergeant Daniel Somers Veterans Network of Support Act. This bill would direct the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to create a network of support that shares information from the VA with the designated family members and friends of veterans. It also directs the DoD to send updates to friends and family of servicemembers to give better understanding of the rigors, challenges, and needs associated with military service. The information would include details about what benefits and assistance the VA and other state and local government agencies can provide to veterans, potentially providing lifesaving resources.

Rep. Clark (D-MA-5) introduced H.R. 5314, the Support for Veterans in Effective Apprenticeships Act. This bill [bill text not yet publicly available to view] would enable registered apprenticeship programs to better serve veterans. Currently, there is a discrepancy between listed registered apprenticeships and those that have received approval for Veteran Affairs (VA) benefits. The legislation would close that gap by taking three critical steps: 1) ensure that apprenticeship programs are aware of and will make a good faith effort to complete the expedited VA process for registering apprenticeships; 2) clarify that veterans are eligible for advanced program placement and commensurate wage increases based on their military experience; and 3) improve coordination between the agencies by requiring the Dept. of Labor to inform the VA of newly registered programs.  The Senate companion bill was introduced by Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) and passed the Senate earlier this week.

Sen. Tester (D-MT) introduced S. 2988, the Veteran Pension Protection Act. This bill would require the VA to proactively and systematically track victims, scammers, and trends of financial exploitation. More specifically, it would require VA to take a more central and active role in identifying the prevalence of these scams, educating veterans, survivors, and VA claims processors, and tracking the effectiveness of VA’s current system of reporting complaints to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Office of Inspector General (OIG), and the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Rep. Bergman (R-MI-1) introduced H.R. 3495, the IMPROVE Well-Being for Veterans Act. This bill would utilize a public health approach that helps connect veterans with existing community resources in an effort to provide key services before a veteran reaches a point of crisis.

_____________

Article: Service chiefs grilled over efforts to fix mold, vermin and other military housing woes

Article: ‘It is cheating our military families’ | Representatives grill military housing executives

Article: Rep. Rose hears veterans’ concerns about mental health, VA care at town hall on S.I.

Article: House VA committee passes bill aimed at tackling military suicide crisis

Article: Lawmakers face long to-do list that could have big impacts for veterans and service members

Article/Video: 'It turned into a nightmare' | Military families demand help from lawmakers on Capitol Hill

Article: Ohio senator to co-sponsor VA bill for Thailand benefits

Article: Veterans suicide prevention proposal turns into bitter fight between Congress and VA

Article: Lawmakers want to require Tricare to cover 3D mammograms

Article: Ernst takes aim against VA ‘pension poachers’

Opinion letter: Should the VA be Providing Acupuncture Services to Veterans?

Article: National Defense Authorization Bill Stalls at Senate and House Leadership Level

FYI: Next week it is possible that the House of Representatives will vote on the FY 2020 NDAA Conference Report.

ELSEWHERE IN GOV’T

New GAO report: Preliminary Observations on DOD's Oversight of the Condition of Privatized Military Housing

Article: 102 military bases at risk for water shortages, GAO finds

Article: A massive Tricare glitch billed thousands of patients 100 times more than their premium

Article: US Postal Service issues ‘Healing PTSD’ stamp to raise funds for veterans

Article: VA launches National Artificial Intelligence Institute to drive research and development

Article: New Marine Corps Guidance Clarifies Political Activity Allowed On Social Media 

OTHER

Article: Two Military Base Shootings This Week Leave Defense Civilians in 'Fear, Terror, Sadness and Grief'

VoteVets.org press release: $700,000 Ad Buy Touting Sen. Gary Peters

Article: Liberal Veterans’ Group [VoteVets.org] Endorses Pete Buttigieg in 2020 Race

Op-ed from the Center for American Progress: Caring for U.S. Veterans: A Plan for 2020

New organization: Military Veterans in Journalism

Background info here.

[North Carolina] Article: Children of veterans stuck with the bill after last-minute cuts to scholarships in NC

[Georgia] Article: Jail opens unit dedicated only for military veterans

[Oregon] Letter to the editor: Support active military, families this holiday season

[Wisconsin] Article: Veterans, Nurses Union, And VA Secretary Disagree Over Zablocki Medical Center

[South Dakota] Article: Sioux Falls VA hospital gets snap inspection

[New York] Article: New state law aims to help veterans with military sexual trauma

[Michigan] Article: Michigan House votes to restore funding for local governments, veterans services

[Vermont] Article: Vermont's governor wants to help prevent veteran suicides. How he's trying to reach them.

[South Carolina] Article: Here are the 3 finalists who could lead SC’s new Department of Veterans’ Affairs

[Ohio] Article: Stephens introduces bill to help seniors, veterans

[Illinois] Article: State leader supports legislation to benefit veterans and their families