Ocean County American Legion
Legislative Notes
Courtesy of Past County Commander Bill Palme

 





5/31/22 Update
 
 
FEDERAL
 
GRASSROOTS ALERT: TAKE ACTION TO SUPPORT  VETERANSEXPOSED TO TOXIC HAZARDS 
I have received email responses from both Senator Booker and Senator Menendez, a sponsor of H.R. 3967 the House Bill Honoring our PACT Act of 2021. They will both vote “YES” when this bill comes to a vote in the Senate. 
A grateful thank you al our OCAL members who emailed our Senators asking them to vote for this important bill to get VA healthcare for those veterans whose cancers were caused by burn pit toxins
 
SERGEANT FIRST CLASS HEATH ROBINSON     HONORING OUR  PROMISE TO ADDRESS COMPREHENSIVE TOXICS (PACT) ACTSenate Veterans Affairs Committee chair Sen. Tester (D-MT) and ranking member Sen. Moran (R-KS) on Wednesday announced an agreement to support the House-passed PACT Act.
 
Previously, Moran and his Republican colleagues hesitated to support the legislation due to the cost and fears of overwhelming the VA’s benefits and health care systems. The statement announcing the agreement did not indicate what changed GOP lawmakers’ minds. Veterans service organizations (VSOs) and other advocates have been lobbying heavily for the bill, which the House passed in March on a bipartisan basis (although only 34 Republicans voted in favor).
 
The PACT Act expands VA health care eligibility to 3.5 million post-9/11 veterans who were exposed to burn pits and other toxins. It adds 23 service presumptions for the health effects from toxic exposures, including hypertension due to Agent Orange. It also expands areas in which veterans exposed to Agent Orange would qualify for service presumptions.
 
The legislation also provides funding for 31 major leases Congress has previously authorized. The funding  has been stalled in Congress because of the way CBO scores them for budgetary planning purposes.
 
Finally, the legislation provides additional resources for the VA to bolster both claims processing and the provision of health care in order to manage the increased number of eligible veterans.
 
The Senate intends to vote on the legislation around June 7 or 8. If the House needs to vote (due to the Senate changing language in its bill), Speaker Pelosi (D-CA) has promised prompt floor action.
 
A Pentagon spokesman said on Thursday that Defense Secretary Austin speaks with VA Secretary McDonough about this topic on a regular basis. He did not indicate whether the two Departments have yet created a plan for identifying all service members who were exposed to burn pits and would be eligible for VA services under this legislation

AMERICAN LEGION CALLS FOR IMMIGRATION REFORMThe American Legion’s National Security Commission has been reviewing immigration policy issues with those in the field to discuss needs with the border, visa application, legal immigration application, asylum system and more. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency estimates that there are 11.4 million undocumented immigrants currently residing within the United States – approximately 45% of them arrived in the United States legally but have overstayed their visa.
The American Legion believes in legal immigration into the United States and a path toward becoming a
U.S. citizen. To help in those efforts, the National Security Commission presented an immigration reform policy resolution during The American Legion’s Spring Meetings May 5 in Indianapolis. Resolution No. 23, Immigration Reform, was adopted by the National Executive Committee.
 
As stated, the resolution urges the U.S. government to:

  • Adopt immigration reform policy that emphasizes border security, focusing on funding for barriers where needed, fielding of advanced technologies, and fully manning the border;
  • Enact laws that improve visa security through thorough vetting of applicants, reducing visa overstays and ending visa programs that are vulnerable to exploitation by bad actors
  • Streamline the legal immigration application process so as to help reduce and discourage illegal immigration.
  • Reform the asylum system and adhere to laws requiring detention and expedited due process and/or removal of illegal border crossers; and
  • Strengthen immigration reform agreements with transit countries to discourage the flow of immigrants that attempt to enter the United States illegally.
 
THE VA AND THE SOUTHERN BORDERThe Biden Administration is reportedly about to lift Title 42 at the Southern border. The previous Administration had used the rule to send undocumented immigrants back to Mexico. Lifting the rule would allow these individuals to stay in the United States while awaiting asylum decisions.
 
There has been a small firestorm in Congress and elsewhere at the prospect of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) calling upon the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to send medical personnel to the border to treat those immigrants for COVID and other conditions.
 
As a result, for the last few weeks, Republican lawmakers have asked a number of VA witnesses whether VA personnel will be diverted from treating veterans to care for migrants. On Wednesday, VA Secretary McDonough hopefully put the matter to rest when he assured the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee (SAC-Milcon) this will not happen. The American Legion recently passed Resolution 23  which calls for immigration reform.
 
THE VA’S ELECTRONIC HEALTH RECORD MODERNIZATION         (EHRM) INITIATIVEMcDonough told the SAC-Milcon that, since March 3, the facilities using the new EHR system have experienced six outages due to system imbalance and similar issues. Cerner, the EHR provider, is in charge of ensuring these problems do not occur. Describing himself as “frustrated” by this, McDonough indicated a reluctance to continue rolling out the system at additional sites until that is fixed.
 
The system has experienced outages of up to just over two hours at both Mann-Grandstaff and Walla Walla, two facilities located in Washington state. No reported outages have yet occurred at the Columbus, Ohio, facility, which was the third and most recent medical center to implement the Cerner EHR system,
 
At Wednesday’s hearing, McDonough denied reports that Mann-Grandstaff is planning to cut back on veterans’ care due to productivity losses caused by the EHR implementation. The Secretary promised Sen. Murray (D-WA) that there is no such plan, and he would not support such a move.
 
McDonough and other VA leaders have told Senate committees this week that lessons learned on training staff on the new system have resulted in far smoother rollouts at both Walla Walla and Columbus. The plan is to continue implementing the system in smaller, less complicated settings, while building up to tackle larger facilities later in the schedule.
 
The Cerner system is next scheduled to be implemented on June 11 at the Roseburg VA Health Care System and the VA Southern Oregon Rehabilitation Center and Clinic, both located in Oregon.
 
 
 
 
2021-2022 Bills 117th Congress
 
Active Bills Since Last Report
 
S.2102 — 117th Congress (2021-2022 ) SERVICE Act of 2021 Sponsor: Sen. Boozman, John [R-AR] (Introduced 06/17/2021) Cosponsors: (14)
Committees: Senate - Veterans' Affairs Latest Action: Passed the Senate; House - 05/18/2022 Motion to reconsider laid on the table Agreed to without objection. 
 
 S.2533 — 117th Congress (2021-2022) Making Advances in Mammography and Medical Options for Veterans Act Sponsor: Sen. Tester, Jon [D-MT] (Introduced 07/29/2021) Cosponsors: (5) Committees: Senate - Veterans' Affairs Latest Action: Passed the Senate; House - 05/18/2022 Motion to reconsider laid on the table Agreed to without objection.
 
 
 S.2687 — 117th Congress (2021-2022) Strengthening Oversight for Veterans Act of 2021Sponsor: Sen. Tester, Jon [D-MT] (Introduced 08/10/2021) Cosponsors: (2) Committees: Senate - Veterans' Affairs Latest Action: Passed the Senate; House - 05/17/2022 Motion to reconsider laid on the table Agreed to without objection.
 
H.R.2724 — 117th Congress (2021-2022) VA Peer Support Enhancement for MST Survivors Act Sponsor: Rep. Delgado, Antonio [D-NY-19] (Introduced 04/21/2021) Cosponsors: (39) Committees: House - Veterans' Affairs | Senate - Veterans' Affairs Latest Action: Passed the House; Senate - 05/19/2022 Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.
 
 
H.R.7335 — 117th Congress (2021-2022) MST Claims Coordination Act Sponsor: Rep. Luria, Elaine G. [D-VA-2] (Introduced 03/31/2022) Cosponsors: (1) Committees: House - Veterans' Affairs | Senate - Veterans' Affairs Latest Action: Passed the House; Senate - 05/19/2022 Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs. 
 
H.R.6961 — 117th Congress (2021-2022) Dignity for MST Survivors Act Sponsor: Rep. Mrvan, Frank J. [D-IN-1] (Introduced 03/07/2022) Cosponsors: (4) Committees: House - Veterans' Affairs | Senate - Veterans' Affairs Latest Action: Passed the House; Senate - 05/19/2022 Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs. 
 
H.R.6064 — 117th Congress (2021-2022) To direct the VA for a review for individuals who submit claims to the Secretary for compensation under chapter 11 of title 38, United States Code, for mental and physical conditions linked to military sexual trauma. Sponsor: Rep. Nehls, Troy E. [R-TX-22] (Introduced (11/19/2021) Cosponsors: (10) Committees: House - Veterans' Affairs | Senate - Veterans' Affairs Latest Action: Passed the House; Senate - 05/19/2022 Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs. 
 
 H.R.6052 — 117th Congress (2021-2022) Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General Training Act of 2021 Sponsor: Rep. Underwood, Lauren [D-IL-14] (Introduced 11/18/2021) Cosponsors: (1) Committees: House - Veterans' Affairs Latest Action: Passed the House; Senate - 05/19/2022 Received in the Senate.
 
 H.R.5738 — 117th Congress (2021-2022) Lactation Spaces for Veteran Moms Act Sponsor: Rep. Luria, Elaine G. [D-VA-2] (Introduced 10/26/2021) Cosponsors: (2) Committees: House - Veterans' Affairs | Senate - Veterans' Affairs Latest Action: Passed the House; Senate - 05/19/2022 Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.
 
 H.R.2992 — 117th Congress (2021-2022) TBI and PTSD Law Enforcement Training Act Sponsor: Rep. Pascrell, Bill, Jr. [D-NJ-9] (Introduced 05/04/2021) Cosponsors: (13) Committees: House - Judiciary; Energy and Commerce | Senate – Judiciary Latest Action: Passed the House; Senate - 05/19/2022 Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary. 
 
 
H.R.7500 — 117th Congress (2021-2022) Fiscal Year 2022 Veterans Affairs Major Medical Facility Authorization Act Sponsor: Rep. Allred, Colin Z. [D-TX-32] (Introduced 04/14/2022) Cosponsors: (3) Committees: House - Veterans' Affairs Latest Action: Passed the House; Senate - 05/18/2022 Received in the Senate. 
 
 
For any Federal Bill Details go to: Library of Congress - https://www.congress.gov/search
 
AL Legislative Center:  http://capwiz.com/legion/issues/bills/
 
 
 
NEW JERSEY
 
Groundbreaking for new Veterans Affairs (VA) Health Clinic in Toms River

Monday, May 16th, Congressman Kim spoke at the groundbreaking celebration for the new, state-of-the-art VA health clinic coming to Toms River. Since day one, delivering this new clinic for thousands of Ocean County veterans has been Congressman Kim’s top priority.

The new clinic will offer specialty care and greatly improve the services available for our veterans in Ocean County and surrounding areas.
 
 
2022-2023 Bills – 219th Legislative Session
 
A1455 Permits County clerk or register of deeds and mortgages to issue identification card to Gold Star Family Member. Latest Action: 2022-05-26 - Passed Senate (Passed Both Houses) (36-0)
 
AJR57 Expresses support for commissioning of SSN-796, U.S.S. New Jersey, in New Jersey. Latest Action: 2022-05-19 - Reported from Senate Committee, 2nd Reading
 
S1536 Increases allowance paid to war veterans with certain service-connected disabilities. Latest Action: 2022-05-19 - Referred to Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
For Details of NJ Legislative bills go to https://legiscan.com/NJ