March 03, 2020

Chairman Takano Remarks Before Legislative Presentation of Multiple Veterans Service Organizations

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Mark Takano (CA-41) delivered opening remarks before the joint hearing of the House and Senate Committees on Veterans’ Affairs entitled “Legislative Presentation of Multiple Veterans Service Organizations” featuring American Ex-Prisoners of War, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Student Veterans of America, Gold Star Wives of America, Military Officers Association of America, Fleet Reserve Association, and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. A link to the video of Chairman Takano’s opening statement and remarks as prepared can be found below.

 

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Video of Chairman Takano’s opening remarks.

 

Chairman Takano’s remarks as prepared:

 

Thank you Chairman Moran and good afternoon everyone. I am once again honored to be here with Chairman Moran, Senator Tester, Ranking Member Roe and all the members of the House and Senate Committees on Veterans' Affairs.

Today we will hear testimony from several more Veterans Service Organizations. I would like to welcome the American Ex-Prisoners of War, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Student Veterans of America, Gold Star Wives of America, Military Officers Association of America, Fleet Reserve Association, and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. It is a pleasure to hear from each of you this afternoon!

These annual hearings are critical so Congress can hear directly from organizations that work with and support veterans and their families every day. This work provides insights into the challenges faced by veterans, and opportunities for improving VA’s policies and programs.

I am looking forward to today’s panel, as the witnesses before us will cover the entirety of VA’s jurisdiction – from healthcare, to disability assistance, to educational benefits and housing, to guard & reserve parity, and supporting the families of servicemembers.

As we work to address these issues, it is important that we maintain open lines of communication with all of you so we can work collaboratively to support veterans and their families.

The testimony you have provided will serve as a framework for our Committee’s efforts this year.

I’m pleased that many of the priorities that will be shared today have been drafted into legislation that this Committee has passed and already sent over to the Senate! Together, we’ve passed legislation to expand Specially Adaptive Housing, make improvements to the GI Bill Comparison Tool, create VA’s 4th Administration, and support the families of homeless veterans.

I am committed to working with Chairman Moran, and the entire Senate to see these important priorities go to the President and be signed into law.

But much work remains, and I am confident that by working in a bipartisan manner, we can accomplish even more of our VSO’s priorities.

In addition, I want to thank SVA for highlighting one of my top priorities-- closing the 90-10 loophole. 

As an educator, ensuring our veterans receive a quality education is paramount. The existing 90-10 loophole has encouraged bad actors to exploit America’s veterans for their own gain, leaving student veterans with worthless diplomas.

While taking care of veterans is my priority, we must also ensure that we are good fiduciaries of tax payer funds by no longer enabling these bad actors to commit fraud, waste, and abuse.

I’m encouraged by the work the House and Senate has done to finally fix this technicality. 

You have my commitment that I will do all I can as Chairman, and as a member of the House Education & Labor Committee, to see this loophole finally closed once and for all this year.

We depend on our Veterans Service Organizations to provide this committee with your expertise and advocacy, to hold the administration accountable, and work to fulfill the promises we’ve made to our veterans. I want to thank each of you for the great service you do for our veterans and their families, and I look forward to hearing your testimony.

Mr. Chairman, before I yield back my time, I’d like to say to all the Tennesseans affected by the tornado, my thought and prayers are with you and your families and friends.  Thank you, Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.

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