Chairman Takano Applauds Passage of Omnibus, Urges Members to Remember our Promise to Veterans
Jenni Geurink (202-819-4684)
WASHINGTON, D.C — Today, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Mark Takano (D-Calif.) released the following statement after the House of Representatives passed H.R. 2471, an omnibus consisting of all 12 fiscal year 2022 appropriations bills and supplemental funding to support Ukraine. The omnibus includes three provisions advanced by the Committee to support our nation’s veterans.
“Along with critically important funding to keep our government open and support Ukraine, the omnibus we just passed through the House includes three key bills advanced by our Committee,” said Chairman Takano. “These provisions will ensure VA can competitively recruit and retain nurses and physician assistants, provide equity in burial for National Guard and Reserve Members, and increase funding for VA’s sought after VET TEC Program.
“I’m proud that Democrats and Republicans came together to support $13.6 billion in aid that is urgently needed for Ukraine. This expense is a necessary one, but let’s not forget our unfinished business of caring for toxic-exposed veterans. When we make major funding decisions like these, we must remember that we have made promises to our servicemembers that we have not kept—that includes funding the healthcare and benefits we owe our veterans. We can both fund aid in Ukraine and support our veterans. These are not mutually exclusive—they only require the will of Congress. I would hope that providing healthcare and benefits to veterans exposed to toxic substances on our watch is met with the same bipartisan urgency we saw tonight. Today’s servicemembers and tomorrow’s veterans need to know that we will not forget them once they get out.”
The omnibus includes veterans provisions that will:
- Help VA competitively pay nurses and PAs (Rep. Underwood): Increases the maximum rate of basic pay for VA nurses and physician assistants, allowing VA to offer more competitive salaries to registered nurses, advance practice nurses, and physician assistants in high cost-of-living markets.
- Ensure equity in burial for National Guard and Reserve Members (Rep. Pappas): Would allow NCA to provide individual states the ability to decide who they choose to inter in their state veteran’s cemeteries and removes any potential barrier for those states who may wish to open their application process. This ensures National Guard and Reserve members can be buried with fellow servicemembers.
- Increase funding for Veteran Employment Through Technology Education Courses (VET TEC) (Rep. Levin): Increases funding in Fiscal Year 2022 for VET TEC from $45 million to $125 million due to the high demand and usage of the program. This allows VA to continue operating the program to the end of the fiscal year to provide more student veterans the chance to gain the high-tech skills sought by today’s top employers.
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