FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Amanda Maddox, 202-224-7777
Thursday, August 3, 2017
Kristen Hines, 202-224-9126
***In Case You Missed It***
Senate Approves Three Major VA Reform Bills;
Confirms Six VA, U.S. Court of Appeals Nominees
Isakson applauds bipartisan Senate action, calls it ‘great week for our veterans’
WASHINGTON – If you were not watching C-SPAN2 this week, you might have missed the U.S. Senate taking action on a number of items that U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, has ushered through Congress on behalf of our nation’s veterans.
ü Critical Funding for Veterans Choice
On Tuesday, the Senate passed legislation backed by Isakson to authorize and appropriate funding for the VA to continue the Veterans Choice Program and strengthen VA care. In addition to providing critical funding to continue the Veterans Choice Program, the VA Choice and Quality Employment Act of 2017 also authorizes 28 major medical facility leases and puts in place reforms that strengthen the VA’s ability to recruit, train and retain their workforce. After passing the U.S. House on July 28, this bill now heads to the president’s desk for his signature.
ü Updating the VA’s Appeals Process
The Senate also passed Isakson’s legislation to modernize the VA’s current benefits claims appeals process to improve efficiency and reduce wait times for veterans on Tuesday. The VA’s current appeals process is in desperate need of updating, and nearly half a million veterans are in limbo because of the VA’s existing backlog. The Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017 will help ensure veterans receive a timely response to their appeals. Following Senate passage, the measure, H.R.2288, heads back to the House as amended for a vote on final passage.
ü #ForeverGIBill Approved
On Wednesday, the Senate approved Isakson’s sweeping legislation, the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017, to make much-needed updates to the post-9/11 G.I. Bill. There are 1.1 million individuals using VA education benefits each year, and they would all be helped in some way by this legislation, with even more veterans gaining eligibility due to this bill. Read more about the bill, passed unanimously by the Senate on Wednesday and on its way to the president’s desk, here.
ü VA Nominees Confirmed
Finally, on Thursday, the Senate confirmed six outstanding nominees to serve at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. Read more about these nominees, including Tom Bowman who was confirmed to be deputy secretary at the VA, here.
“I am extremely proud to be a member of a Senate that values our veterans’ service and sacrifice and is working so diligently on their behalf,” said Isakson. “The committee that I have the honor of chairing, the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, is one of the most bipartisan and thus one of the most productive committees in the Senate. The Senate passage of these important bipartisan bills will improve many aspects of the care, support and benefits that our veterans receive at the VA. In addition, we have sent six incredible nominees to the VA and to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims so that they can get to work on behalf of our veterans. It’s a great week for our nation’s veterans.”
The Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is chaired by U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., in the 115th Congress. Isakson is a veteran himself – having served in the Georgia Air National Guard from 1966-1972 – and has been a member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs since he joined the Senate in 2005. Isakson’s home state of Georgia is home to more than a dozen military installations representing each branch of the armed forces as well as more than 750,000 veterans.