It’s been a crazy few weeks on Capitol Hill, and the IAVA DC team has been right in the thick of it. Congress is officially out until September, but make no mistake, the IAVA DC team will be using that time to engage Hill staff on IAVA member priorities, especially our #SheWhoBorneTheBattle campaign. Here are the toplines from the past couple weeks:
- #SheWhoBorneTheBattle: The legislative focus of our campaign, the Deborah Sampson Act to help women veterans, continues to gain momentum and add cosponsors. We’re up to 21 in the Senate and 37 in the House. IAVA Executive Director Allison Jaslow and Legislative Director Tom Porter met with VA Secretary Shulkin about it specifically this week, and IAVA Founder and CEO Paul Rieckhoff gave an interview to Cheddar.com on the campaign.
- GI Bill 3.0: The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act passed the Senate unanimously this week after passing the House unanimously last week. In the 24 hours before the vote, more than 1,000 IAVA members contacted their Senators in support of the bill. The bill will be sent to the President’s desk where he is expected to sign it into law.
- GWOT Memorial: The IAVA-backed Global War on Terrorism Memorial bill was passed in the Senate this week after passing the House last week. This bill is the first step in creating a memorial in Washington, D.C. for all Americans to honor and remember those who have served and sacrificed in the War on Terrorism. This has been an issue in our Policy Agenda for years, and we’re excited that it has been passed into law. The bill will be sent to the President’s desk to be signed into law.
- VA Choice Program: IAVA and leading VSOs defeated a bad and partisan bill on the House floor that would have hurt our ongoing fight for VA reform. We forced leaders from both sides to get together with leading VSOs to craft compromise bill was good for veterans. The final, bipartisan bill that passed the Senate this week addresses the urgent funding needs of the Choice program that many IAVA members use now, while also investing in improvements within the VA.
- Military Transgender Ban: IAVA stood with former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, CJCS General Dunford, Senator and Vietnam Vet John McCain (R-AZ), post-9/11 veterans and Sens. Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), former Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, and a bipartisan chorus of veterans and military leaders in challenging the President’s tweet announcement of a ban on transgender troops serving in the military. We will be monitoring developments on this closely—and we will fight back if this proposed transgender ban is implemented in the military.