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HVAC Considers 22 Bills at May Markup

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Mike Bost (R-Ill.), delivered the following opening remarks, as prepared, at the start of the Committee’s markup on 22 veterans’ bills. For a full list of the bills being considered at today’s markup, click here.


Good morning.


Thank you all for being here.


Good morning. A quorum being present, the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs will come to order.


We are meeting this morning to markup several bills pending before the Committee.

But before we get started I’d like to address the subpoena resolution I was planning on calling up for this Committee’s consideration.


The resolution would have required V.A. to produce documents, communications, and media related to V.A.’s internal investigation of Ms. Shekeba Morrad.  


Ms. Morrad is an attorney in V.A.’s Office of General Counsel, who posted a social media video where she openly mocked Israelis who were asking for the return of hostages captured by Hamas.


After viewing this disgusting video in November, I wrote to the Secretary to see what was being done.


V.A. stated that they were investigating the matter.


After sending several further letters, I became concerned V.A. was not adequately addressing the serious situation.


I am worried Ms. Morrad’s blatant antisemitism would influence her legal work and affect veterans of Jewish faith.


I am also worried Ms. Morrad’s conduct would make V.A. employees of Jewish faith feel unwelcome at work.


Because of these concerns, in a December letter to the Secretary I requested V.A. provide all documents associated with its investigation.


I wanted to review these documents so I could make sure V.A. was conducting a proper investigation and not trying to sweep this incident under the rug.


Four months and over three requests for documents later, V.A. has still not produced a single investigative document for this Committee’s review.


V.A. has simply briefed committee staff on its investigation; including V.A.’s conclusion and interpretation that Ms. Morrad’s comments were not antisemitic.


This is unacceptable and frankly laughable.


Any reasonable person who views this video can clearly see her comments were antisemitic.


However, earlier this week, the Secretary’s staff informed me the Secretary would make the requested documents available in-camera for committee review.


It is disappointing it took numerous letters and months of waiting for V.A. to commit to providing these documents.


Nevertheless, I am glad V.A. finally got with the program.


I look forward to reviewing the requested documents to make sure V.A. conducted a detailed and proper investigation and has the proper processes in place to prevent further antisemitism.


If the Secretary tries to hinder my investigation, I will not hesitate to call up another subpoena resolution.


Now, back to the markup.


There are Amendments in the Nature of a Substitute for a number of these bills that were noticed by the Committee.


Some of these include the text of other bills that were passed on a bipartisan basis at the subcommittee level.


Each of the bills we will consider today will improve the lives of veterans and their families.


We are considering legislation that would:

·    Allow members of the Selective Reserve to receive in-state tuition rates through a waiver, even if they are not residents of that state.


·    Change educational entitlement to reduce the financial burden on veterans attending flight schools.


·    Increase VA Work Study opportunities


·    Revise the VR&E language to address employment barriers, rather than handicaps


·    Put a permanent stop to violations of veterans’ due process rights when VA assigns them a fiduciary


·    Ensure that veterans’ benefits keep pace with inflation.


·    Make the V.A. claims and appeals process more understandable and transparent


·    Ensure that V.A. prioritizes the needs of veterans’ survivors, including those who are unaware of the benefits available to them.


·    Codify scam and fraud prevention efforts within V.A.


·    Require V.A. to develop a system to monitor for errors and bugs so veterans have more reliable access to their healthcare and benefits.


·    Establish an advisory committee specifically dedicated to resolving accessibility issues for disabled veterans.


·    Amend existing law to make clear that if an employee tries to leave V.A. while under investigation to escape accountability, the Secretary must complete the investigation and record if any wrongdoing was substantiated.


·    Authorize a reasonable and achievable supply chain modernization project – unlike the recklessly ambitious project that V.A. is getting ready to launch.


We have had to pull several of the bills off of the agenda for today for lack of a score from the Congressional Budget Office that is frankly overworked at the moment.


I hope to work with my colleagues to bring many of these proposals in a future markup later this summer.


I now yield to the ranking member for his opening remarks.


Thank you.

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