Legislative Dispatch: NDAA Day 5
Posted by Tom Tarantino on December 4
We are down to the wire today with the 2013 NDAA and the Senate is in danger of leaving critical amendments for veterans on the table and out of the bill. The good news is that last night, the Senate approved an amendment that would require states to take into account military training when issuing vocational licenses and certifications. Unfortunately, there are still 4 amendments that are highly in danger of being sacrificed at the altar of partisan politics.
- Amendment 3221: Tap modernization Act (Boozman) - Held by Sen. Murray
- Amendment 2946: Brown USERRA/SCRA Bills - Held by Sen. Burr
- Amendment 2957: Webb GI Bill protection - Held by Sen. Burr
- Amendment 3209: Coburn 2nd Amendment Protection Act - Held by Sen. Schumer
The first two are non-controversial, bipartisan amendments that will help protect veterans jobs and promote a smoother transition into the workforce. The third one, the Webb amendment, will help ensure that student veterans are protected by establishing better accountability for schools accepting the GI Bill. These are all amendments that IAVA support, but, unfortunately, they are being held up by political maneuvering - which is something that IAVA will not stand for.
The last one, the Coburn amendment, has been widely misinterpreted both in the media and by lawmakers. All it does is prevent a VA employee for reporting a veteran who is seeking care for invisible injuries to the Department of Justice as unfit to own or operate a gun. While this does not happen very often, IAVA feels that giving the VA, (and not a court, like in the civilian system) this power promotes the worst stigmas about mental health care and will ultimately prevent some who need care from seeking it. This bill isn’t about gun rights, it’s about removing stigmas from seeking mental health care - and we call for the inclusion of this in a timely manner.
2012 has been a year mired in gridlock and partisan infighting. In the past, both sides of the aisle have been able to put politics aside and take care of veterans. Now is the time to do this again. Unemployed, injured and student veterans should not pay the price for politics.
2.5 million new vets are counting on them.
Tom Tarantino is IAVA's Chief Policy Officer and heads up our Washington, DC, office. Follow their work here.
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