News from DC -The Week of 2019-07-26

CONGRESS

 Earlier this week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed by voice vote the following bills:

1) H.R. 2943 (introduced by Rep. Gil Cisneros [D-CA-39]), a bill to provide benefits information in Spanish and Tagalog for veterans and their families,

2) H.R. 2942 (again, introduced by Rep. Cisneros), the HEALTH Act – a bill directing the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to carry out the Women’s Health Transition Training pilot program through at least fiscal year 2020,

3) H.R. 617 (introduced by Rep. Ralph Norman [R-SC-5]), the Department of Energy and Veterans’ Health Initiative Act – a bill to authorize the Department of Energy to conduct collaborative research with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs in order to improve health care services for U.S. veterans, and

4) H.R. 3504 (introduced by Rep. Gus Bilirakis [R-FL-12]), the Ryan Kules Specially Adaptive Housing Improvement Act – a bill to provide for improvements to the specially adapted housing program and educational assistance programs of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
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 Earlier this week, by a vote of 89-1, the U.S. Senate confirmed Mark Milley to be the Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman.

Earlier this week, by a vote of 90-8, the U.S. Senate confirmed Mark Esper to be the Secretary of Defense.

The U.S. Senate is expected to soon debate and vote on the confirmation of David Norquist to be the next Deputy Secretary of Defense.

(Ramos recommendation: contact your senators and tell them to VOTE NO on this.)
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Earlier this week there was a subcommittee hearing in the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee on the topic of: “VistA Transition: Assessing the Future of an Electronic Health Records Pioneer”

(Video begins at 15:23)
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Earlier this week, there was a subcommittee hearing in the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee on the topic of: “Learning From Whistleblowers at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs”

(Video begins at 16:02)
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Earlier this week there was a full committee hearing in the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee on the topic of: “True Transparency? Assessing Wait Times Five Years After Phoenix”

(Video begins at 15:58)
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U.S. Sens. Rounds (R-SD) and Tester (D-MT) are expected to introduce the G.I. Bill Work Study Improvement Act of 2019a bill to streamline the processing and administration of VA benefits through the VA Work-Study Allowance Program, providing veterans with timelier benefits.  

OTHER

 

Article: Senate Confirms Mark Esper As Defense Secretary

Article: “Senate confirms Milley as chairman of the Joint Chiefs”

Article: “Supreme Court clears way for Pentagon to use $2.5 billion for border wall”

New CRS Report: “Hazing in the Armed Forces”

New GAO Report: “Opportunities Remain to Improve Appointment Scheduling within VA and through Community Care”

New NAS Report: “Strengthening the Military Family Readiness System for a Changing American Society

3-min. video: Top five riskiest scams a military family can face

Article: “MassHealth Finally Implements "Brave Act" Protections For Veteran”

Article: “Retired Marine and farmer Mike Broihier joins race challenging McConnell for Senate”

1 ½-min. video: Tom Steyer’s talk with veterans who support impeaching Trump

IL Governor Press Release: Gov. Pritzker signed into law a bill to ensure that U.S. Marine Corps license plate funds are used to benefit Illinois’ veterans and/or veterans' families

IL Governor Press Release: Gov. Pritzker signed into law a bill to expand the allowable forms of proof for veterans when they get state ID cards and drivers' licenses

IL Governor Press Release: Gov. Pritzker signed into a law a bill to allow high schools to award a diploma to students who left high school to serve in the military and made the ultimate sacrifice

Article: US Tax Professionals in Vancouver Publish Tax Breaks for Members of the Armed Forces

22-min. video: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo remarks at the 120th Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention

Letter-to-the-editor: “U.S. military families must not go hungry”

Article: “Congress takes up military housing issues in new bill”

Op-ed by U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI-8): “Peer support is key to veterans reconnecting back home”

Op-ed by Bill Himpler (President and CEO of the American Financial Services Association): “Time to fix the Military Lending Act”

Article: “VA secretary, House Democrats spar on Twitter over wait times for veterans health care”

DoD Article: “Program Makes Moves Cheaper for Military Spouses”

Article: “US Army Garrison Italy says ‘ciao’ to its outgoing and incoming commanders”

Article: “Do American political divisions impact troops? Here’s what enlisted leaders have to say”

(Of note – this comment: “About 22 percent of troops who participated in the Military Times survey last fall said they have seen signs of white nationalism or racist ideology within the ranks.)

Article: “Lawmakers nominate far more men than women for military service academies each year: Report”

Article: “New Law Will Allow Thousands More Veterans to Join American Legion

Article: “Special duty airmen: Shorter tours will help maintain family balance, career edge”

Article: “Military Parents Want ‘Choice-Driven’ Policy in K-12, Report Finds”

Article: “An official survey shows Army families are even less happy with their privatized housing”

Article: “3 ways military veterans can successfully transition into the civilian workforce”

Article: “Top Albuquerque City Officials Get Big Raises, Report Shows Mental Health Care Delayed For Veterans”

Take-action petition for Congress to include pro-arts language as an option to physically/mentally-wounded service-mambers in therapy

Article: “Military Consumers at Higher Risk for Marketplace Losses, According to BBB Report”