veterans-affairs

Democratic impeachment holdout touts legislative focus over inquiry he’s not backing
South Carolina’s Joe Cunningham spent recess discussing climate change, infrastructure, trade

South Carolina Rep. Joe Cunningham, here examining a turtle excluder device while touring a shrimp boat in Mount Pleasant, S.C., on Monday, is one of seven House Democrats not supporting the impeachment inquiry. (Lindsey McPherson/CQ Roll Call)

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Rep. Joe Cunningham spent his final day of a two-week district work period here Monday talking to local fishermen about adjusting to climate change and to a conservation group about banning offshore drilling — top issues for constituents of his coastline district.

Cunningham, the first Democrat to represent the 1st District in more than a quarter century, did not talk about the House’s impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, except to answer reporters’ questions about why he has not endorsed it. The constituents he interacted with Monday did not broach the topic with him, although some complimented him generally for how he’s navigating a political tightrope.

Florida lawmakers continue clash with VA Secretary Wilkie over evictions
Members say offices in VA facilities were closed because Wilkie took offense to grilling from Mast in April hearing

From left, Reps. Brian Mast, R-Fla., Darren Soto, D-Fla., and Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., conduct a news conference Friday in the Capitol Visitor Center on the eviction of Congressional offices from Veterans Affairs Department facilities. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A bipartisan group of Florida House members led by GOP Rep. Brian Mast continues to clash with Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie over their eviction from offices in VA facilities.

The lawmakers have claimed Wilkie directed VA hospitals in Florida to remove members from small constituent service offices in their facilities as payback for a grilling Wilkie received from Mast at a congressional oversight hearing earlier this year.

Rolling Thunder gets new life, new focus, new name
Advocacy group AMVETS says it will also address veterans suicide as well as POW/MIA awareness to 33rd annual Memorial Day ride

A motorcyclist rides in the 32nd Rolling Thunder in Washington in May. Previous organizers said in December that the 2019 ride would be the last. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The annual military veterans motorcycle run from the Pentagon parking lot to the Vietnam Memorial on the National Mall will continue next Memorial Day weekend under the leadership of a different veterans organization.

Military veterans advocacy group American Veterans (AMVETS) has taken the torch of organizing the motorcycle rally after Rolling Thunder, a group that honors prisoners of war and missing in action service members, decided last year that it would no longer sponsor the event after 32 years.

House drug price negotiation plan could apply beyond Medicare
Draft plan would have government set prices based on those in other wealthy countries

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has been heavily involved in House Democrats' drug price plan. A spokesman emphasized that it's still a work in progress. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A comprehensive drug price bill being developed by House Democrats would give private insurers the benefit of government-negotiated prices, according to a summary of the measure obtained by CQ Roll Call.

Under the Democrats’ draft plan, the government would set prices based on what is paid in other wealthy countries, according to the summary. That is similar to how a proposal by the Trump administration would work.

Jerry Moran in line for Senate Veterans’ Affairs gavel

Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., is in line to chair the Veterans’ Affairs Committee after Johnny Isakson resigns. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The news of Sen. Johnny Isakson’s pending resignation will have consequences when it comes to committee rosters, most prominently with Kansas GOP Sen. Jerry Moran the next in line to be chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs’ Committee. 

Moran should be a familiar figure to veterans service organizations and other groups involved in policy, since he is a former chairman of the Military Construction-VA subcommittee of Appropriations. Senate Republicans tend to adhere to seniority rules, and Moran is the next lawmaker in line for the job. He also does not have any other full committee chairmanships, meaning there won’t be as much of a domino effect.

Options for private health care a comfort and concern for veterans
New VA program expands private care options and boost pay for medical professionals. But some worry it could lead to wholesale privatization

The exterior of the Veterans Affairs Department hospital is shown in east Denver Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017. A New VA program expands private care options and boosts pay for medical professionals. But some worry it could lead to wholesale privatization if the VA deprioritizes funds for its own facilities. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Eugene Downs, a 93-year-old Navy veteran who served during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, has received nearly all of his care over the past 27 years from the Department of Veterans Affairs. He’s a regular at the Washington VA Medical Center, where he has “no gripes.”

“I get the best damn care anybody can get,” he says.

Kyrsten Sinema invokes memory of John McCain in maiden speech
Arizona Senator uses address to advocate for her legislation to combat veteran suicide

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., delivered her maiden speech on the floor on Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In her maiden speech on the Senate floor, Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema invoked the courage of the late Sen. John McCain and recounted the tragic story of a veteran’s suicide that might have been prevented with better access to appropriate mental health care.

Sinema, a Democrat, said she is committed to making sure veterans don’t feel trapped, as Sgt. Daniel Somers did when he committed suicide in 2013, and shining a light on the 20 veterans who die everyday as a result of suicide.

Pelosi: Extra veterans health care funds needed in debt deal
Letter to Mnuchin opens new front in talks to raise debt limit and 2020 spending caps

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that funds for veterans health care should be included in any deal to raise the debt ceiling and spending caps. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Saturday pressing for added funds to help veterans see private doctors as part of any deal to raise the debt ceiling and tight appropriations caps.

Pelosi’s letter opens a new front in the talks as congressional leaders and the White House head into high-stakes negotiations with little time remaining before the August recess.

Ross Perot, a consistent and colorful presence at the Capitol
Billionaire political, business iconoclast is dead at 89

Ross Perot speaks against NAFTA with Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., behind him in the House Triangle on Nov. 8, 1993. (Laura Patterson/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Ross Perot, the iconoclastic Texas billionaire who died on Tuesday at age 89, was well known for roiling presidential politics in the 1990s. But he was also a consistent and colorful presence on Capitol Hill, advocating for a variety of causes, including veterans affairs, deficits and trade policy.

“NAFTA is like a bad-tasting dog food,” Perot said on the Capitol grounds on Nov. 8, 1993, rattling off just one of the pithy, and head-scratching, Lone Star-fried aphorisms that came to help define the man. His enmity for the North American Free Trade Agreement, which he predicted would give way to a “giant-sucking sound” of jobs to Mexico, would be right at home in today’s political debates on trade, particularly as Congress considers NAFTA’s successor, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

Rep. King’s ‘Diamond and Silk Act’ gets ripped by conservative pundits
Iowa Republican’s bill aimed at helping veterans, homeless was product of conversation with conservative YouTube personalities

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, will introduce the “Diamond and Silk Act” this week. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Conservative media pundits panned Rep. Steve King’s new bill aimed at providing aid and resources to veterans and homeless people as a politically motivated ploy that unnecessarily involves the controversial conservative YouTube personalities known as “Diamond and Silk.”

“I understand the need for cheap shots in politics. But really, at the expense of the homeless and veterans?” Washington Examiner opinion columnist Becket Adams wrote in an article Monday titled, “Rep. Steve King makes a mockery of homelessness, veterans issues.”