Congressman Sanford Bishop

Representing the 2nd District of Georgia

Rep. Bishop Protects Veterans' Retirement & Disabilty Benefits

Mr. Bishop (GA) – Mr. Speaker and my colleagues, there are many times when we come to this floor and engage in heated debate, and we have heard some heated debate today.  This so-called Cut, Cap, and Balance bill does just that.

It cuts and it caps programs that will work for everyone and put America ahead of our competitors.  It cuts and caps our ability to jump-start new industries in our country, like clean energy. It cuts and caps our ability to rebuild our economic infrastructure, like roads and bridges and ports, and to put people to work.  It cuts and caps education and job training opportunities to help middle class people get and keep good jobs.

Yes, it cuts and it caps, but it balances the cuts and the caps by protecting tax breaks for the wealthiest folks in our country, by providing subsidies for corporations that take jobs overseas away from American workers, and by cutting Medicare and Social Security benefits for our Nation's seniors--balancing it on the backs of them.

I have some problems with this bill, Mr. Speaker, but I am a realist, and I realize, reluctantly, that it might just pass.  So, regardless of how we may feel about the underlying legislation, this motion to recommit is something upon which we ought to all be able to agree.  It simply says that it shall not be in order in the House of Representatives or the Senate to consider any balanced budget amendment to the Constitution that could result in a reduction in veterans' benefits.

Mr. Speaker, we have already seen what a shortfall in veterans funding can do.  I remember the problems with veterans care.  I remember the $1 billion shortfall a few years ago when the Department of Veterans Affairs had to raid its operations and maintenance account to help pay for veterans basic medical care.

Even now, veterans have to wait years to have their claims adjudicated because they're just are not enough adjudicators. They have to wait too long to get doctors to get their treatment.  Mr. Speaker, with more of our serv ice mem bers returning home every day, more vets are returning home who have no opportunity or a limited opportunity for job training, returning home with PTSD, or returning home now having to face the possibility of limited educational benefits because of this bill and its progeny.

Mr. Speaker, now is not the time to endanger benefits to our Nation's veterans.

When veterans come home without limbs because they have defended our freedoms, we should not put in place Cut, Cap, and Balance legislation on their backs, the backs that are strained and damaged by the injuries they sustained fighting for this country.  We should not stand idly by and watch this Congress endanger the welfare of our Nation's heroes.

Today's Nation's military remains deployed overseas as it has during the last 9 years.  The funding requirements we face in meeting the needs have significantly increased as we continue to meet and address the longstanding issues from past and current wars.  And we cannot watch the requirements for these fighting men and women who come home continue to die.

These needs last long after the last American combatants depart Iraq and Afghanistan.  This motion to recommit would simply protect our veterans from any potential unintended consequence resulting from this ill-conceived bill, the so-called Cut, Cap, and Balance Act.

The needs of America's veterans, past and future, should be one of our highest priorities.  And this motion will ensure that our veterans are taken care of and they receive the benefits they have earned.

Let's be clear. The passage of this motion to recommit will not prevent the passage of the underlying bill.  If the amendment is adopted, it will be incorporated into the bill and the bill will be immediately voted upon.

So though we may disagree on the bill, today we have the opportunity with this motion to recommit and my amendment to speak with one voice in support of our veterans.

It is up to all of us.  I urge you to vote ``yes'' on this motion to recommit.  But let's make sure that if this bill passes, the Cut, Cap and Balance and any balanced budget will not result in a reduction of veterans benefits.  Vote ``yes'' on the motion to recommit and protect our Nation's veterans.

Video of Rep. Bishop speaking on the House floor can be viewed here.