While it was a shortened work week as the nation honored Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and the partial government shutdown continues into its 35th day, the IAVA DC team continues to build legislative victories in the first month of the 116th Congress. The #CannabisForVets campaign continues as a new bill was introduced in the House, and we picked up 3 cosponsors on IAVA-backed legislation, and the Supreme Court addressed the transgender ban.
First up, as the shutdown continues into its 35th day the branch most affected is the Coast Guard. As many of you know they have been continuing their service to our country in protecting our ports and coasts, not only stateside, but also overseas, for almost a month without pay. It’s because of that the Red Cross and the U.S. Coast Guard Mutual Assistance (CGMA) partnered with USAA to secure $15 million in relief funding. If you or anyone that you know is a member of the Coast Guard and are in need of assistance, please follow this link to see if you are eligible. Thank you to the CGMA, the Red Cross and USAA for their support of our servicemembers in the Coast Guard and their families.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to allow the military transgender ban to take effect while the cases challenging the ban work their way through the system. The Court did not issue a formal opinion, but a simple statement of its decision. However, as of today, the Department of Defense will not change its current transgender policy. To break this down, the Supreme Court is letting the lower courts decide on the merits of the ban for now, and will potentially pick up this case in the future. Stay tuned as IAVA will continue to fight this damaging policy and for equality for all of our servicemembers and veterans.
IAVA continues to fight for all of our Big 6 priorities and on Wednesday, the #CannabisForVets campaign gained serious momentum. Reps. Lou Correa (D-CA) and Clay Higgins (R-LA) reintroduced the VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act (H.R. 712). Thank you Reps. Correa and Higgins for taking the lead on this historic, bipartisan piece of legislation in the 116th Congress. You can ensure that your Member of Congress is signed onto this bill by going through our take action page.
Lastly, stay tuned to Eye on Veterans radio this weekend as IAVA Chief Policy Officer, Melissa Bryant, will be on with host Eric Dehm talking about IAVA priorities and goals for 2019, including a preview of the launch of our 2019 Member Survey event welcoming the #CamouflageWave with Members of Congress on Capitol Hill next Wednesday. RSVP if you’re in the DC area here!
New Cosponsors on IAVA-Backed Legislation:
The newly-reintroduced Burn Pits Accountability Act (S. 191/H.R. 663) picked up 3 new cosponsors this week across both Chambers of Congress! Huge thanks to Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), Reps. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) and Mike Gallagher (R-WI). While only a week old, this legislation already has 117 cosponsors in both chambers and is poised for a strong 2019.