Advocacy Update: Fund for 9/11 Victims on Way to White House; Advocacy Continues on IAVA Top Priorities

As Congress heads into its August recess, the Senate passed an IAVA-backed bill Tuesday to ensure a fund to compensate victims of the 9/11 terror attacks never runs out of money.  Having passed the House already, it now goes to the president for signature. Huge victory for our friends who answered the call that day and in the weeks and months that followed!

The IAVA DC Team had a very productive week. From meetings and roundtables with Members of Congress, to attending hearings and other public events, we have been busy! We were also excited to add two new cosponsors to our supported legislation.

Our DC team also met with many Senators and Representatives, expanding our legislative agenda to new audiences. The mission of fighting for better lives for our veterans is a message that transcends party, district, or background. A sincere thank you to all those lawmakers who met with us this week, and we look forward to working with them in the future.

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IAVA Vice President Tom Porter and Policy Intern Clark Bowden meet with Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) 

On Wednesday, Policy Intern Clark Bowden attended the House Veterans Affairs Committee oversight hearing regarding appointment wait times at VA hospitals. The hearing was held on the five-year anniversary of when the wait time scandal at the Phoenix VA was discovered. VA has taken sizable steps to reduce wait times and increase transparency, however, there is still much work to be done. You can read more about VA wait times and the content of this hearing here, as well as more about IAVA’s Government Reform agenda here

On Thursday, Director of Government Affairs Travis Horr participated on a Women Veterans Task Force roundtable attended by many Members of Congress and partner VSOs. The #SheWhoBorneTheBattle campaign remains part of IAVA’s #Big6 and we look forward to continuing our work with the task force in the future to ensure that women veterans issues are addressed by all of Congress and VA.

Also Thursday, Travis attended a reception hosted by our friends at TAPS to honor Gold Star children. The children were able to build networking and other skills, as well as learn about benefits for Gold Star children as they plan to attend college. The event was also attended by many Members of Congress, including HVAC Chairman Mark Takano (D-CA). IAVA will continue to fight not only for servicemembers and veterans, but also their families.

On Friday, Travis was at American Enterprise Institute (AEI) for a conversation between Reps. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) and Mike Levin (D-CA) about how reforms at VA can lead to better services for veterans when it comes to employment, homelessness, and education benefits. The Congressmen were followed by an expert panel that addressed how to counter the ‘broken vet’ narrative. It was a great event, and we thank Reps. Wenstrup and Levin for their leadership in Congress on these issues and you can read more about the event here.

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Reps. Wenstrup and Levin discuss VA reforms with Military Times Reporter Leo Shane.

New Cosponsors of IAVA-Backed Legislation:
IAVA’s Policy Team added new cosponsors to our priority legislation! The Burn Pits Accountability Act (S. 191/H.R. 663) gained a new cosponsor in Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA). We thank the Congresswoman for her support, as well as for her support on the VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act (S.179/H.R.712). 

The Deborah Sampson Act (S. 514) also picked up one new cosponsor in Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), who also cosponsors the Burn Pits Accountability Act (S.191/H.R.663). We are very grateful to these and all of our the cosponsors as we work together to make these bills become law.

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