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Economic Opportunity Chairman Van Orden Leads Subcommittee Markup of 11 Bills

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Rep. Derrick Van Orden (R-Wisc.), the Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity, delivered the following opening remarks, as prepared, at the start of the subcommittee’s markup on 11 bills to improve veteran education programs and the VA Home Loan Program:

Good morning, everyone.


Today, we are marking up eleven bills, several of which I will be asking unanimous consent to consider en bloc.


All of these bills were considered at a legislative hearing in this Subcommittee.


I am supportive of the bills on today’s agenda as they are important measures that will improve the lives of veterans and their families by improving the GI Bill program, offering legal support for veterans filing claims for benefits, and improving the VA home loan program.


These bills are the product of bipartisan negotiation. Many of them will need to be refined further before full Committee consideration, but I am pleased with the progress that has been made today. 


I hope everyone on the Subcommittee will support these bills and continue to work together to address concerns as we move forward in the legislative process.


In accordance with Committee rules, the Subcommittee has contacted the Congressional Budget Office seeking informal, preliminary cost estimates for each of the bills being considered today.


Many of these preliminary scores are only a range of potential costs because the Subcommittee has still not received official cost estimates on the bills from the Congressional Budget Office.


None of the bills being considered here today include the offsets that will be necessary to move these bills further in the legislative process.


However, as we work to refine the list of bills that will be considered at a Full Committee markup, and bills that may be considered on the House Floor, we will need to find offsets to ensure that we are in accordance with House rules.


We want to make sure that we are not passing legislation that will increase the debt and the burden on the American taxpayer.


I find it interesting that while House Democrats claim to be concerned about the cost of the Dole Act, today just two of their bills cost over four times that legislation that would touch every part of VA and is supported by over 40 Veterans groups.


But, if my friends now express true good faith concerns about the cost of the Dole Act, and they stop playing a political game, I look forward to working with them to reduce the cost scores of their proposals.


I should note there are still multiple opportunities to improve and make necessary changes to these bills.


The Ranking Member and I will continue to work with our colleagues on the Committee and any stakeholders that have feedback on these bills as we continue to work through the legislative process.


I am proud of the non-partisan work this subcommittee continues to do and I believe the bills that we are considering today truly reflect that process.


One of the bills that we are considering is my answer to help veterans that have gotten behind on their mortgages and cannot catch up by refinancing due to the high interest rates in the current market.


These veterans on average owe less than twenty thousand in arrearages.


I have made no secret of my opinion on VA’s VASP program. This plan is a loser for borrowers and taxpayers alike.


I believe that a partial claim fix offers a fiscally responsible solution that is in line with other government agencies.


One of the other bills under consideration today is my bill to improve a veteran’s experience on college campuses. My bill would make it easier to hire individuals to fill VSOC positions on college campuses nationwide.


I thank the minority for working with us to ensure the best language in my bill is on the agenda today.


Finally, I have a bill to improve the apprenticeship program to discourage veterans who are participating in apprenticeships from dropping out.


The amendment today would require VA to collect data and report to Congress on the primary reasons that veterans drop out of the program so we can see if other improvements should be made to the program.


I look forward to working with the Ranking Member on this bill and the other bills being marked up today to ensure that we are doing the right thing for veterans.


I now recognize the distinguished Ranking Member for any opening remarks he may have.
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