CONGRESSMAN BISHOP FIGHTS FOR COMPREHENSIVE GOVERNMENT FUNDING BILL FOR VETERANS, AMERICA
Washington, D.C. – Last night, Congressman Sanford D. Bishop (GA-02), Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee of Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies, took to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives to fight for a Fiscal year (FY) 2014 Continuing Resolution (CR) that funds the entire federal government and keeps it open for all Americans. The measure under consideration, House Joint Resolution (H.J. Res.) 72, would have reduced veterans’ programs by $6.2 billion as compared to the FY 2014 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill that was approved in June of 2013 by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 421 to 4. Under House rules, H.R. Res 72 failed to reach the necessary two-thirds vote to approve the measure and send it to the United States Senate for its consideration.
To view a video of Congressman Bishop’s floor remarks from yesterday evening, please click here.
For more information regarding the FY 2014 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill, please click here.
Please note the transcript of Congressman Bishop’s floor remarks below:
“I yield myself such time as I may consume.
“Mr. Speaker, this I believe is really a fraud. This is just a part of the cynical game that has been played to justify keeping this government shut. The proposed rate of $2.5 billion is the same amount provided in the House-passed MilCon/VA bill earlier this summer, which passed 421 to 4. It is the same funding request level by the administration, and this CR does not touch or do anything for the remaining VA discretionary accounts.
“In fact, the CR fails to include $155 million for veterans’ benefits management system, it fails to include $136 million for the Veterans’ Claims Intake Program. These two programs are vital to speeding up the claims process, yet they’re not included. The medical research account: not included. Construction, major and minor: not included. Office of the Secretary, including the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, $438 million: not included. The VA Office of the Inspector General, $116 million: not included. The VA IT, [$3.68] billion: not included. Grants to state veterans’ homes, to state cemeteries, the National Cemetery Administration: not included.
“On June 4, we passed a full bill, a complete bill, a bipartisan bill, 421 to 4. Mr. Speaker, if this measure goes on to become law, which I doubt that it will, a majority of the federal government will still be shut down. For example, the Department of Defense will not have the material support needed to conduct training to ensure the readiness for the forces at home. Regular training exercises, including large-scale training rotations, depend on equipment that is in proper working order, facilities that have been properly maintained, and supplies needed to support the soldiers, the sailors, the marines, and the airmen in their training efforts. Under this bill, pay would still be denied to more than 42,500 federal law enforcement agencies and correctional workers at the Department of Justice, 4,000 weather forecasters and other National Weather Service employees. And other extreme weather events, we won’t have employees to protect us.
“Mr. Speaker, Members of Congress, we don’t have the luxury to pick and choose which parts of the federal government we want to fund. It’s our responsibility under the Constitution to fund the entire federal government. Let me repeat, the entire federal government. So instead of playing games, let the House of Representatives vote on a clean Senate CR and end this shutdown very quickly.
“I’m disappointed, I’m downright disgusted. I truly resent the way that those on the other side of the aisle are trying to use veterans as pawns in this cynical game of government shutdown. All we have to do is pass a clean CR. This CR, this budget, should not be a Democrat CR, it should not be a Republican CR, it should be an American CR for all of us. I urge that we defeat this cynical effort and we adopt a full clean CR. With that, I reserve the balance of my time.”
“I thank you very much. We live in the greatest country on the face of the earth. We enjoy freedoms that no – they enjoy no place else like in America. But freedom is not free. The freedoms we enjoy were bought with a price, and that was the price of the men and women who sacrificed, and I am very very saddened tonight that our colleagues would use and would hide behind the garment of sacrifice of those veterans and put forth a CR that does not fund, as the Senate CR does, the discretionary budget fully, the mandatory budget fully. But theirs, this CR will not. I urge the defeat of it, and let’s not allow them to hide behind the sacrifice of our veterans.”