The DC Team is making what we hope will be our big, last concerted effort to pass the Zadroga Act. Today began with the great news that support keeps rolling in, with news that Reps. Jackie Walorski (R-IN), David Reichert (R-WA), Don Young (R-AK), and Frank D. Lucas (R-OK) all signed on to the bill yesterday.
IAVA also met today with House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) Policy Director and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton’s (R-MI) senior health care staff, and conveyed the importance in getting this over the goal line. The E&C has jurisdiction over the Zadroga Health Program.
The Speaker’s staff said he was actively working to get Zadroga included in the omnibus, but he needs the chairmen of jurisdiction to work the payfors, which is the main sticking point. He didn’t see any disagreement over the policy.
E & C Chairman Upton has proposed his own payfors to permanently extend Zadroga, including to “require millionaires to pay their fair share of Medicare Part B and D premiums” – which the Committee says will amount to another $70 paid per month. Details were included in a press release last night. Upton is also open to other ideas to pay for the bill, staff said, adding that there are no remaining issues E&C has with the policy portion of the bill.
Of special note, last night House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-FL) told IAVA staff that he would not support the bill, as he had opposed the bill 5 years prior when it was originally considered. On a positive note, his Committee staff told us today that it is clear our advocacy efforts are paying off as we are helping to push the committees of jurisdiction and leadership to move on the bill. He also said he has seen some of our members’ letters received by Chairman Miller and Committee Members.
Finally, the IAVA Legislative Team met with freshman Rep. Alex Mooney’s (R-WV) office today, informed them of the 19 first responders in their Congressional District, and asked for support for the bill.
Congress has been racing to meet the Dec. 11 deadline to pass funding for the entire federal government. Reports say that they may need a few days longer and will likely need to pass a short-term funding bill to keep the government funded. This could actually be helpful for Zadroga negotiations to play out.
We’ll keep up the fire!
How you can help: IAVA has set up a “Take Action” web page, to be updated daily, for our veterans and supporters to ask their Members of Congress to support the bill. The page, iava.org/zadroga, lists all current cosponsors of the measure. If your representatives in DC aren’t yet on the bill, click here to email your members of Congress.