Our Congressional Work Continues…
I appreciate you taking the time to read this brief update. It remains an honor for me to serve as your United States Representative in Washington, D.C.
With Thanksgiving now in the rearview mirror, I am back in Washington, D.C. where we continue our work in Congress on a wide range of issues of importance to our nation and to those of us in Colorado. This past week we voted on bills covering a range of topics from the annual funding of the U.S. Coast Guard to a bill on modernizing our federal technology management structure.
The most significant bill we voted on this week was the latest extension of the national flood insurance program. This bill, H.R. 7187, The National Flood Insurance Program Further Extension Act authorizes the National Flood Insurance Program until December 7, 2018. Absent this vote, the program was set to expire on November 30, 2018. This bill represents the seventh time now that we have had to vote to extend the existing national flood insurance program that is badly in need of a major overhaul. The House of Representatives passed a long-term measure, H.R.2874, The 21st Century Flood Reform Act, that provided much needed reforms to the program, over a year ago, but the Senate has simply not taken up any flood insurance bill for a vote. This is very frustrating that the House finds itself forced to take the time it could otherwise use to address other issues on behalf of the American people to keep passing these short term extensions.
The other bills we voted on this week were not very controversial, but that does not mean they are not important to our nation. For example, we passed S. 140, The Frank LoBiondo Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2018. The Coast Guard performs many vital missions, such as search and rescue at sea, preventing seaborne drug smuggling, and maintaining navigation aids for our ports. Keeping it adequately funded is important to our nation so, I am pleased we passed this legislation on a bipartisan basis.
At the Military Personnel Subcommittee, which I Chair, the Department of Defense (DoD) made its first presentation on a major reform to the laws covering the mobilization of members of the National Guard and the Reserves. At present, there are about 400 different sections of law that were enacted piecemeal over decades that cover these mobilizations. This makes it very difficult administratively for the DoD and it frequently leaves service members confused and upset about how and when they will be paid. Revising and reforming these laws is a major priority of mine and I am pleased that the process is now well underway.
At a House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing this week, we followed up with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) on an issue I wrote about in a Message from Mike in early November. The VA has shown that they have a problem making timely and accurate payments for living expenses to veterans under the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill. The VA announced how it plans to address this problem on Wednesday.
While I appreciate the VA making this effort to address the issue, I don’t believe their proposed solution complies with the requirements under current law! You can see in the clip below some of the questions I asked of the VA.
Again, my real concern is protecting our veterans and making sure that those veterans studying under the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill receive their housing and living assistance on a timely basis. For me, this is just another example of why the new VA Secretary, Robert Wilkie, needs to clean house and fire incompetent bureaucrats at the Senior Executive Service level who have consistently failed to deliver the benefits that our veterans have earned through their military service. So far, Secretary Wilkie has refused to do so. Until these changes are made at the most senior echelons of management at the VA, the culture of bureaucratic incompetence at that agency will never change.
Finally, I invite you to stay in contact with me via my Website, Facebook or Twitter account. See you around the district!