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Opening Statement of The Honorable Dina Titus, Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs, House Committee on Veterans' Affairs

Thank you, Mr. Chairman for holding this hearing today on behalf of our nation’s veterans.

Today, we are examining ten bills that pertain to issues of critical importance to our nation’s veterans.  I support several of these bills proposed by our colleagues, and am proud to have worked with the Chairman to introduce H.R. 4095, the Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of Living Adjustment Act of 2014. This legislation will increase the rates of compensation for veterans with service-connected disabilities, and those surviving spouses of veterans who receive dependency and indemnity compensation. This is simply the right thing to do for our Veterans and survivors.

Also on today’s agenda is H.R. 2088, introduced by Ranking Member Michaud, which would create Claims Processing Centers of Excellence. With the Ranking Member here to discuss his bill, I will defer to him to outline this legislation. But, . I fully support his legislation and believe that this will build on VA’s successes fighting the backlog.

H.R. 2119, the Veterans Access to Speedy Review Act, is brought forward by Mr. Ruiz, a member of our Subcommittee. His legislation seeks to address the appeals backlog, a high priority issue for this committee, by allowing the Board of Veterans Appeals to select the quickest way to schedule hearings for veterans.

Lastly, H.R. 2529, the Veteran Spouses Equal Treatment Act, would clarify the definition of “spouse” for the purpose of receiving VA benefits to include all spouses in any legally recognized marriage with a veteran in any state of the United States and its territories and possessions. The purpose of this legislation is to ensure that all veterans and their families are receiving the benefits they have earned through their military service. Unfortunately, current law precludes some veterans from receiving the benefits they have earned.  

I believe this is a common sense approach, and I hope we can move this bill to the Floor as quickly as possible.

I thank all of the Members for their thoughtful legislation.  And, I thank all of our esteemed witnesses for joining us today and look forward to hearing their testimony.

Thank you and I yield back.