MEASURE WOULD ALSO TIE VA BENEFITS TO SOCIAL SECURITY
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The House of Representatives passeda package of veterans-aimed bills yesterday, Rep. Frank Guinta joining his colleagues to support automatic cost-of-living adjustments for veterans, as well as tighter controls of Veterans Administration (VA) construction projects, prone to cost overruns.
Veterans benefit increases, tied to Social Security increases, would no longer require separate Congressional approval to take effect.
“Granite State vets shouldn’t have to wait to receive the same benefits as Social Security recipients, due to a gap in legislative action,” said Rep. Guinta (NH01).“Our country made a promise to them, and we must keep it.”
The veterans population in New Hampshire, where Rep. Guinta represents the First District, ishigher than most states’. Last year, the Congressman introduced the SENIORS Act to grant vets a one percent COLA increase, eliminating wasteful federal spending to fully pay for it.
For only the third time in 40 years, the Social Security Administration announced there would be no COLA increase in 2016.“A good example of wasteful federal spending is the cost overrun at the VA hospital in Denver,projected to cost $1.73 billion – triple the original estimate,” said Rep. Guinta.
A bill in yesterday’s package of reforms would appoint an assistant Inspector General to investigate VA construction projects.
Yesterday’s package also included a measure to more closely monitor progress at underperforming VA medical facilities.The Failing VA Medical Center Recovery Act would compel the VA to report to Congress its progress every fiscal quarter and to dispatch rapid response teams within 30 days to fix failing health facilities.
CNN first reported the story of “secret waiting lists” at VA hospitals, where employees manipulated patient data to obscure long wait times. A Senate investigation directly linked as manyas 1,000 veterans’ deaths to long wait times.
“Meanwhile, in 2014, the same year a nationwide scandal broke,”said Rep. Guinta, “VA employees collected $142 million in bonuses. Congress is serious – more serious than the Administration -- about enacting change at the bureaucracy.”