veterans-affairs

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.”

Veterans are being denied this GI Bill benefit if they work in cannabis
The VA considers working in the marijuana business to be insufficiently ‘stable and reliable’

A U.S. flag redesigned with marijuana leaves blows in the wind in front of the U.S. Capitol in 2017. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

For 75 years, veterans purchasing a home have been able to count on help with their home loans from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs – home loans backed by the VA are one of the core benefits included in the 1944 GI Bill.

But a little-known rule — one the VA has never issued any policies or guidance on — makes those loans inaccessible to veterans who work in the cannabis industry, according to a group of about two dozen lawmakers.

These Democratic women don’t want to be ‘show ponies’
Political Theater: Episode 73

Democratic House freshmen banding together to help each other raise money to keep their seats in 2020 are, from left, Reps. Mikie Sherrill, Abigail Spanberger, Elissa Slotkin, and Chrissy Houlahan, along with Rep. Elaine Luria. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Five Democratic freshmen, all women with military or intelligence backgrounds, are banding together to help each other fundraise for their 2020 races. They all flipped Republican districts in 2018, and they know winning districts like theirs is the key to holding and expanding the House majority in 2020. 

After a few months in Congress, they’ve figured out who are the “workhorses” and who are the “show ponies,” in the words of Michigan Rep. Elissa Slotkin, and they’re tired of the latter getting all the attention. Along with Slotkin, Reps. Elaine Luria and Abigail Spanberger of Virginia, Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey and Chrissy Houlahan of Pennsylvania are fighting to hold the majority.

Sarah Sanders lashes out at Democrats, April Ryan over calls for her firing
Embattled Trump spokeswoman calls Dems' reaction to Mueller report ‘sad,’ wants to ‘move on’

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Monday criticized author and journalist April Ryan, seen here at a book-launch event in September in New York, for calling for her ouster. The Mueller report detailed times in which Sanders lied to reporters, prompting Ryan's call. (Robin Marchant/Getty Images file photo)

Newly embattled White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Monday lashed out at congressional Democrats and reporter April Ryan as President Donald Trump and his team began their first week following release of Robert S. Mueller III’s report.

Democratic lawmakers wasted little time Thursday calling for her ouster following the special counsel’s report that detailed several instances in which Sanders misled reporters, especially about Trump’s decision-making before he fired then-FBI Director James Comey. Ryan, an American Urban Radio Networks reporter who provides analysis for CNN, followed that night by calling for the same during an appearance on the network’s “Outfront” program.

Will the correct Rep. Levin please report to the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee?
The tradition of mixing up Levins continued this week when Andy, not Mike, was added to the VA Committee

Rep. Andy Levin, D-Mich., resigned from the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee after being named to the panel in error. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

After an exceptionally brief tenure, Rep. Andy Levin resigned this week from a role on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee following a "clerical error." 

Levin was named, along with 14 of his Democratic colleagues, to the panel on Jan. 17. But the resolution that named “Mr. Levin of Michigan” to the committee, was a case of mistaken identity.

Bill to ‘repatriate’ deported veterans gets new life in Democratic House
Bipartisan bill would provide path to citizenship for immigrant veterans deported after committing nonviolent crimes

Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, D-Texas, was one of two lawmakers to re-introduce a bill this week to help immigrant veterans gain permanent legal status in the U.S. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Two lawmakers have revived a bipartisan bill to bring deported veterans back to the United States as permanent legal residents and open up an expedited path to citizenship for pre-9/11 noncitizen veterans.

This week, GOP Rep. Don Young of Alaska and Rep. Vicente Gonzalez of Texas reintroduced their bill from last Congress — the “Repatriate Our Patriots Act.” It had floundered in 2017’s GOP-controlled Judiciary Committee.