The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides a range of benefits and services to veterans and eligible dependents who meet certain criteria as authorized by law. These benefits include medical care, disability compensation and pensions, education, vocational rehabilitation and employment services, assistance to homeless veterans, home loan guarantees, administration of life insurance and traumatic injury protection insurance for servicemembers, and death benefits that cover burial expenses.
It is vital that Congress provide the VA with the resources and oversight needed to assist veterans in the most effective and transparent way possible. Since I became a member of Congress, I have worked to ensure that all our veterans are given access to affordable housing, healthcare, and tuition assistance. With our aging veteran population and so many new veterans returning home, I am committed to providing veterans and their families with the care and benefits they deserve.
I am proud to have cosponsored numerous pieces of legislation that seek to bolster programs to help veterans and their families adjust to civilian life, obtain quality health care, and access the services they need including H.R. 1472, the Military and Veteran Caregiver Services Improvement Act, and H.R. 3272, the Veteran Education Empowerment Act. H.R. 1472, introduced by Rep. James Langevin (D-RI), would improve services and support for family caregivers of military servicemembers and veterans by expanding eligibility for benefits. H.R. 3272, introduced by Rep. Lois Frankel (D-FL), would establish a grant program through the Department of Education for colleges and universities to create veteran student centers to help student veterans obtain federal and state benefits, thrive in school, and find a job after graduation.
Our men and women in uniform face enormous challenges adjusting to civilian life upon returning home, and I support efforts to help our veterans make this transition. Just as the military pledges to leave no soldier behind on the battlefield, we will leave no veteran behind when they return home.
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Last week in Washington, the House continued to advance the funding for fiscal year (FY) 2020 as well as vote on humanitarian assistance for migrants at the Southern border and election security. I spoke at a House Committee on the Budget hearing about the positive impact of immigrants on our economy, received the Legislator of the Year award from the New Jersey Department of Veterans of Foreign Wars, and met with stakeholders as a part of my work on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
Last week in Washington, the House considered remedies to veteran’s services, consumer protection, and retirement savings. I met with community groups focused on youth job training, postal services, and disaster relief in Puerto Rico. I also attended a post office dedication in Belleville and executed my Budget and Foreign Affairs Committee duties.
Each year, the creation our federal government’s annual budget is a collaboration between the Executive Branch and Congress to set the course for our nation’s priorities. Initiating the process for fiscal year (FY) 2020, President Trump released his budget request on March 11, 2019 to Congress, reflecting a compilation of his administration’s experience running our federal agencies and including their priorities for the upcoming year.
Last week in Washington, the House of Representatives voted on historic measures to overturn the President’s veto and establish pay equality for all Americans regardless of gender. I attended two hearings to question Administration officials on difference aspects of the disastrous Trump Budget, as well as chaired the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere hearing on corruption in Latin America.
Last week in Washington, I attended hearings on all three committees that I serve – Budget, Foreign Affairs, and Transportation – as well as served my first Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere hearing as the Chairman. The House of Representatives also passed legislation addressing the President’s national emergency declaration, gun control, and the future of STEM education.
Last week in Washington, my bill to reform commuter safety inspections passed the House, along with increased child care services for veterans’ families. I met with representatives of the New Jersey Education Association, the Puerto Rico Manufacturing Association, and a number of foreign delegations. I continue to work with my colleagues on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs to address the crisis in Venezuela, and my colleagues and I on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure met for the first time in the 116th Congress.
Last week in Washington, I cosponsored a number of bills to enhance veterans’ health, attended two Foreign Affairs Subcommittee hearings which examined Russia as a counterterrorism partner and the effectiveness of the Kingpin Designation Act, and spoke on the floor about the dangerous effects of the Majority’s tax plan. I also met with different groups to discuss legislative priorities.
While in Washington this week, I cosponsored several pieces of legislation to assist our veterans and a bill to grow American income, discussed the role of external actors in the deteriorating situation in Venezuela, and met with the Ambassadors from Honduras and Antigua and Barbuda.
The month of August was busy as I addressed current events, cosponsored new legislation, and sent letters to the Administration urging for the protection of important policies that are essential to the wellbeing of New Jersey and the nation. As Congress returns to Washington this week, it is crucial that we work together in bipartisan cooperation to address unfinished business and pressing issues such as relief for the victims of Hurricane Harvey.