e-News 5/25/17

e-News 5/25/17

  • Memorial Day Weekend: Honoring Sacrifices that Protect our Families
  • Manchester: Another Reminder
  • “Iran says it has built third underground ballistic missile factory”
  • A New Budget, a New Debate
  • Ending the Wait: House Bill Would Modernize VA Appeals Process
  • Salute: Butler High School’s Mission Honor Veterans Monument


Memorial Day Weekend: Honoring Sacrifices that Protect our Families

Residents of Morris, Essex, Passaic and Sussex counties will gather in their hometowns this weekend to remember our unbroken line of heroes stretching back to the days when General George Washington encamped at nearby Jockey Hollow, part of the Morristown National Historical Park.  

Since the founding of the Republic, the sons and daughters of New Jersey have always stepped forward to serve. And from the battles of Afghanistan and Iraq, to the Korean and Vietnam wars, to the trials of World Wars, to the struggles that made us a nation, their names remind us that “freedom is not free.”

Our nation is free and safe because of brave Americans like these who volunteer to confront our adversaries abroad so we do not have to face them here at home.   These volunteers do the work of freedom so we can all live, work and raise our families today in the greatest nation on the face of the earth! 

I know I speak for all of my fellow veterans when I say that no one loves peace more than the soldier.  That is precisely why all Americans should commit themselves today to the principle first paraphrased in George Washington’s first State of the Union message in 1790: ‘peace through strength.’

This weekend we must never forget that we remain a nation at war and the ongoing military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere around the globe make this weekend particularly important.  Therefore, on Memorial Day 2017, we should remember the words of President Harry Truman:

“Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude. America will never forget their sacrifices.”

Our prayers are also with those recuperating from wounds of war and veterans suffering the effects of their service and the families that care for them.  

So, this weekend, I hope you will take time to honor the men and women who have worn the nation's uniform and were last seen standing guard.

Manchester: Another Reminder

Earlier this week, practitioners of violent extremism turned their aim on the United Kingdom, one of this nation’s oldest and closest allies.  Nearly two dozen innocent victims were murdered in Manchester in what appears to be an international suicide bomb plot.  While we grieve with our British partners, we must remind ourselves 1) there are still dark forces in the world that are plotting and planning to do us great harm; 2) we owe an ongoing debt of gratitude to the men and women of our Armed Forces, our intelligence community and our first responders who labor every day to keep us safe.    

“Iran says it has built third underground ballistic missile factory”

This Reuters article is 'worth a read' as it is still more evidence of what the previous Administration neglected in their much touted and praised Iranian deal! 

A New Budget, a New Debate

This week, the Trump Administration released its budget proposal for the fiscal year (2018) that officially begins next October 1. 

The first responsibility of Congress under our Constitution is to “provide for the national defense” and this budget outline seeks to make our military stronger so we can face the many threats of an increasingly dangerous world.   And after the very sobering briefing I received on Tuesday from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, I am relieved that this budget request would reverse the Defense cuts known as the “sequester” and lay the groundwork for rebuilding our Armed Forces.

But the President’s budget is just a starting place for a larger national debate over national priorities. I, for one, do not agree with all of the steep reductions and program eliminations it contains.  (For example, I do not believe many of the Administration’s cuts in the “social safety net” and job training programs will survive in the House.)

But that is precisely why the Appropriations Committee, which I chair, has begun a thorough analysis of the request. We are holding hearings (eight on Wednesday alone) and will go through each and every budget line and force the Administration to present credible spending justifications on the best use of your tax-dollars.

In the next few months, we intend to work as quickly and as smartly as possible to complete the FY ’18 bills and put forward appropriations bills that adequately fund important programs while working to eliminate waste and duplication.

This process will continue rapidly over the next weeks and months. We intend to work as quickly as possible to complete the fiscal year 2018 Appropriations bills in a timely fashion.

Again, this request is simply a starting place. Ultimately, Congress holds the “power of the purse” and it is our Constitutional duty to make spending decisions on behalf of the people we represent at home.

To read the President’s FY ’18 Budget Request, please click here

You can access the President’s FY ’18 Budget Request on your mobile device by visiting this website.

To watch the Agriculture Subcommittee oversight hearing with Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, please click here.

To watch the Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee oversight hearing with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, please click here.

To watch the Homeland Security Subcommittee oversight hearing with Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, please click here.

To watch the Commervce-Justice-Science Subcommittee oversight hearing with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, please click here.

To learn more about the Appropriations Committee’s oversight responsibilities and schedule, please visit our website.

Ending the Wait: House Bill Would Modernize VA Appeals Process

For far too long, many veterans have been forced to wait for what seems like an eternity before they receive a final decision from the Veterans Administration (VA) about the appeal they filed to an earlier benefits judgement.  This has to change!  When a veteran files an appeal for disability compensation, they deserve to have their appeal decided in a timely manner.  It is unfair to the men and women who have been injured as a result of their service to have their claim for benefits stuck in the appeals backlog for years on end.

While Congress has previously provided additional funding to hire additional benefits appeals personnel, this week the House passed legislation to modernize the appeals process.

The Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017 would create three “lanes” for veterans’ appeals:

  1. “Local Higher Level Review Lane” in which an appeals officer reviews the same evidence considered by the original claims processor;
  2. “New Evidence Lane,” in which the veteran could submit new evidence for review and have a hearing; and
  3. “Board Lane,” in which jurisdiction for the appeal would transfer immediately to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.

The bill would give the Secretary the authority to test the new system prior to full implementation and would allow some veterans already going through the appeals process to opt into the new system.

This is a long overdue “fix” to help repair the VA’s broken appeals process and backlog.  I hope the Senate will see the wisdom of this approach and pass this legislation as soon as possible.

This week the House also approved H.R. 1005, legislation to improve the provision of adult day health care services for veterans. This bill would direct VA to enter into an agreement or a contract with state veterans homes to pay for adult day health care for a veteran eligible for, but not receiving, nursing home care.

We also passed H.R. 1162, the No Hero Left Untreated Act.  This bill would require VA to carry out a one-year pilot program at two VA medical facilities to provide access to magnetic EEG/EKG-guided resonance therapy to veterans with PTSD, TBI, MST, chronic pain or opiate addiction for up to 50 veterans.

Salute: To the Butler High School community which turned out approximately 500 veterans, family and community members and well-wishers last Saturday to be part of the dedication of the school's Mission Honor Veterans Monument.

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