|Congressman Griffith's Weekly E-Newsletter 8.2.14
Saturday, August 2, 2014 â€“
Protecting Veterans and our Border
On Wednesday, July 30, the House of Representatives passed the Veteransâ€™ Access to Care Through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act (H.R. 3230). Importantly, this bill will require the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to allow eligible veterans to receive care outside of the VA system at non-VA facilities if that veteran resides more than 40 miles from the nearest VA medical facility â€“ as is often the case in the Ninth District â€“ or if that veteran is unable to obtain an appointment within a 30-day timeframe. This bill will also give the VA greater authority to hold accountable and fire those higher-ups at the VA who, in failing to meet to their obligation to ensure quality, timely care, fail our nationâ€™s veterans.
We were all rightfully horrified by reports of delays in basic medical screenings at VA hospitals or clinics throughout the country, which may have caused serious injuries or led to the deaths of a number of veterans. This is completely unacceptable, and these systemic failures must never again happen at the VA to the detriment of those the agency serves â€“ our nationâ€™s veterans.
I thank those who worked to negotiate the bipartisan, bicameral agreement, including my friend Congressman Phil Roe (R-TN, Johnson City), and am confident that it will be swiftly signed into law.
I â€“ like many throughout the nation and the world â€“ am very concerned about the sudden influx of unaccompanied children illegally entering the United States. It is without question that this crisis requires action if it is to be resolved.
While the Senate left Washington without having passed a proposal to specifically deal with this crisis, I am proud that the House stayed in Washington to negotiate on this important issue and take a vote. I appreciate Representatives Bob Goodlatte (VA-06), Louie Gohmert (TX-01), Raul Labrador (ID-01), Steve King (IA-04), and many others for working late into Thursday evening and hammering out a proposal that a majority of the U.S. House of Representatives could support. The Senate may not want to do their jobs, but thatâ€™s their decision. We want to do ours.
On Friday, August 1, the House passed two bills to address this crisis. Importantly, one bill prioritizes border security funding and emphasizes reuniting these children with their families in their home nations. One part of the bill allows Customs and Border Patrol to conduct enforcement activities on federal lands and wildlife refuges near our southern border. Border control specialists have told Congress this is one of the most important items necessary to curb the illegal border crossings.
This section of the legislation will also allow search and rescue operations on these same federal lands in an effort to stop illegal human trafficking, particularly for the sex trade.
The bill will increase security at our southern border, and will allow Governors to be reimbursed when using the National Guard to protect the border. It will prioritize funding toward border security and reuniting children to their families in their home nations. And the money spent under this bill is paired with cuts in other government programs, including foreign aid. Thus, this legislation results in no additional spending.
The other piece of legislation will stop President Obamaâ€™s Deferred Action (DACA) scheme. It makes clear that the United States House of Representatives disapproves of the Presidentâ€™s actions which, while not full-fledged amnesty, appear to many to be akin to amnesty. The legislation not only disapproves of President Obamaâ€™s prior actions, but also proactively disapproves of this type of â€śpen-and-phoneâ€ť unilateral immigration actions by the President in the future.
Under the Constitution, the House has done its job dealing with the border crisis. Now the Senate must act.
Recently, the President ribbed House Republicans, saying something like, â€śCome on. Work with me!â€ť Mr. President, I would respond, â€śHereâ€™s our plan. Come on, Mr. President. Follow the Constitution. Work with us!â€ť
Now wouldnâ€™t that be a changeâ€¦ President Obama actually working with Congress.
As always, if you have concerns or comments or wish to inquire about legislative issues, feel free to contact my offices. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov.