Senate Passes Defense Bill
The Senate passed S. 4049, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 (NDAA). This legislation includes a VFW-supported provision to add bladder cancer, hypothyroidism and Parkinson’s Disease to the list of presumptive conditions associated with exposure to Agent Orange. The scientific community concurs that sufficient evidence exist to link these three conditions. The VFW urges the House and Senate to keep this provision in the final version of the NDAA.
House Holds Markup On VFW-Supported Legislation
Last Thursday, the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs held a markup hearing on 12 pieces of legislation. The VFW-supported bills considered at the hearing included H.R. 5487, the Veterans Cemetery Grants Improvement Act, H.R. 5639, the Chuck Osier Burial Benefits At, and H.R. 7795, to amend title 18, United States Code, to improve the ability of veterans to access and submit disability benefits questionnaire forms of the department of Veterans Affairs. The committee voted to approve all 12 bills, which will be considered by the entire House.
House Holds Hearing On Veterans Homes Handling Of COVID-19
Members of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Oversight and Investigation Subcommittee and Women Veteran Task Force recently conducted a hearing on the oversight of state veterans homes during the COVID-19 pandemic. The VA carries out annual inspections, offers guidance and makes federal payments to 148 state veterans homes. These nursing homes, domiciliary care and adult day care facilities are owned and operated by state government. About two-thirds of the state veterans homes are also inspected by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Representatives from Holyoke Soldiers’ Home Coalition, National Association of State Veterans Homes hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Veterans Health Administration Assistant Under Secretary for Health for Clinical Services DR. Teresa Boyd explained the timeline to address the recommendations in the July 2020 GAO report.
ABLE Accounts Allow Tax Benefits For Disabled Veterans
As the result of the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act of 2014, states are allowed to create a tax-advantage savings program for eligible people with disabilities. 529A ABLE accounts can help designated beneficiaries pay for qualified disability expenses with the distribution being tax-free. In honoring the more than 4.7 million veterans with service-connected disabilities, the Internal Revenue Service encourages veterans to check the tax benefits of ABLE accounts.
House Defense Bill Contains Mare Island Cemetery Provision
The House recently passed H.R. 6395, The William M. (Mac) Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 (NDAA). The House version of the NDAA includes a VFW-supported provision introduced by Representative Mike Thompson (D-CA) to transfer control of Mare Island Naval Cemetery from the city of Vallejo, CA, to the VA. Vallejo assumed responsibility for Mare Island in 1996 and has shamefully permitted it to fall into disrepair. The VFW strongly supports the transfer of Mare Island to the VA to ensure it is properly maintained in perpetuity. After the Senate passes its version of the NDAA, a conference committee comprised of members from both chambers will reconcile any differences before the final legislation is sent to the president for approval.
House Holds Hybrid Hearing
At this hearing many veterans issues were discussed including proposals for which the VFW has resolutions. Recognition for early Vietnam veterans, transfer of authority of the Mare Island Naval cemetery, VA dental care and expanded maternity for veterans, were just some of the VFW-supported bills discussed.