Sequestration, Budget, Veterans Top VFW Legislative Agenda

Congress, however, would rather complain instead of fix the VA's problems

WASHINGTON — More than 70 members of the national legislative committee of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States met with their members of Congress this week to urge them to eliminate sequestration and to pass a new budget for the Department of Veterans Affairs so that a nation that creates veterans can properly take care of them when they return home wounded, ill or injured. Congress, however, would rather complain about the problems instead of fund the necessary reforms to bring permanent change to the VA, said the VFW’s national commander.

“I cannot tell you how disappointed I am in the 114th Congress,” said VFW National Commander Brian Duffy. “Both the VA and the VFW have pointblank told Congress what the department needs to better serve veterans, yet it appears every funding bill is going to be tabled until after the November elections, which means another continuing resolution to temporarily fund the government that does little to strengthen national security or bolster the VA’s programs and services for veterans.”

The VFW wants Congress to fix the issues that surfaced after the Veterans Choice Program was implemented two years ago, to expand family caregiver benefits to veterans of all eras, pass meaningful accountability and workforce reform legislation, consolidate and improve the VA’s community care programs, reduce the appeals backlog, and pass the Toxic Exposure Research Act of 2016.

“None of this can happen if Congress is in recess,” said Duffy, who said lawmakers must also remove the forced sequester provision of the Budget Control Act to ensure that the Department of Defense, the VA, and others agencies have the resources needed to defend our nation and to care for those who do the defending.

“Federal election year or not, the near 1.7 million members of the VFW and the VFW Auxiliary fully expect those who are elected to represent us do their jobs,” he said.