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Opening Statement of Hon. Doug Lamborn, Ranking Republican Member, and a Representative in Congress from the State of Colorado

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for recognizing me.  I look forward to hearing the views of our witnesses and our colleagues on the legislation before us.

Our first bill, H.R. 156, provides Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) payments to the survivors of veterans, rated totally disabled at the time of death, who were former prisoners of war.  This bill lifts the payment restriction on families of those veterans who died after September 30, 1999.

In reading some of the testimony it seems that there are less than 850 families that would qualify for this legislation, thus making it the least costly of the three.

Our second bill, H.R. 585, would extend retroactive payments under the Traumatic Servicmembers Group Life Insurance (TSGLI) program to those servicemembers who were wounded outside of the theater of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.  This legislation has merit because anytime a servicemember is seriously injured and would otherwise qualify for TSGLI, it should not matter where the traumatic injury occurred.

Our last bill, H.R. 704, would dispense with the restriction of DIC payments to survivors who re-marry before age 57 and allows them to keep their DIC payment if they remarry after age 55.

This brings the DIC program in line with other survivor programs such as social security and DoD’s Survivors Benefit Plan (SBP) when it comes to the continuance of payments after remarriage.

Mr. Chairman, while in principle I support all of the bills before us, I do understand that all of them have mandatory funding issues. My question to you is whether any offsets for these bills have been identified? 

If there are no offsets then perhaps this hearing is premature.  It would be my hope that a legislative hearing would be part of a deliberate process that would lead to a markup of legislation for the full committee’s consideration.  I know everyone’s time is at a premium and I share with you a desire to make the most of it.

That being said I hope that we can find offsets to move these bills forward and I look forward to working with you and your staff to make sure we do this.

My thanks to my colleagues and the witnesses for their testimony and I yield back.