It’s been a busy week for the IAVA team in Washington, DC as we continue to navigate the lame duck session this year. New developments on veterans and military issues have been happening all around us, but throughout it all we’ve been driving home IAVA member priorities to DC power brokers. Here are the highlights:
- IAVA Chief of Staff, Allison Jaslow, and Interim Chief Policy Officer, Jackie Maffucci, along with several other veteran organizations met with President-Elect Trump’s transition team to outline IAVA’s top priorities for the next administration.
- Several IAVA supported veteran related bills and the final version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) was passed by the House. NDAA is expected to pass the Senate next week. The legislation will then go the President’s desk where it is under a veto threat due to funding issues.
- House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) defeated challenger Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) to continue leading House Democrats in the 115th Congress. The vote among House Democrats was 134-63.
- Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN) has been elected Chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee (HVAC); still awaiting news on the Ranking Member.
IAVA was out in front representing Post-9/11 veterans during a meeting with President-Elect Trump’s transition team yesterday. We outlined our top priorities, to include VA reform, supporting women veterans, defending the Post-9/11 GI Bill and continuing to combat suicide and increase access to mental health care.
The final version of the NDAA passed the House today and is expected to to pass the Senate next week. This year’s NDAA contains several provisions that IAVA supports ranging from #PayThemBack provisions for the California National Guard, special immigrant visas for Afghans that have performed sensitive and trusted activities for the U.S. in Afghanistan, and the Fairness for Veterans Act, among others. While #PayThemBack provisions for the California National Guard is a positive development, IAVA is still seriously concerned that this issue may be a problem in other states. We will continue to press forward until we are satisfied that Post-9/11 veterans and service members affected by this problem get a fair deal.
Several IAVA supported veteran related bills also passed out of the House this week and are now heading to the Senate for consideration. These bills include:
- H.R 4757, which will ensure that deceased Medal of Honor recipients are honored regardless of where they are buried.
- H.R. 5047, Protecting Veterans’ Education Choice Act of 2016, which would encourage employers to hire veterans through the establishment of a new HIRE Vets Medallion Program.
- H.R. 3286, HIRE VETS Act, which will encourage employers to recruit, train and retain veteran employees.
- H.R. 5600, No Hero Left Untreated Act, which would establish one-year pilot programs for the use of Magnetic EEG/EKG-guided Resonance Therapy (MeRT) to treat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)/Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).
- H.R. 6323, which names the Department of Veterans Affairs health care system in Long Beach, California, the Tibor Rubin VA Medical Center after Korean War veteran and Medal of Honor recipient Tibor Rubin.
In regards to leadership developments, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) won her race against Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) to continue leading House Democrats in the 115th Congress by a vote of 134-63. Earlier this week, IAVA sent a letter to House leadership outlining who we want to see representing HVAC leadership, namely a veteran. Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN), physician and Korean war veteran, was elected Chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee (HVAC). The election for the Ranking Member is still pending.
Next week plans to be no less exciting, with an HVAC hearing set for December 7th to address the California National Guard Repayment Issue. IAVA will be present in force to ensure that Congress acts swiftly to enact a solution before the end of the year.