|Senate Veterans' Affairs Chair Bernie Sanders|
Just hours before the likely shutdown of the government, legislation that many anxious American veterans have been hoping for has arrived - and Congress had better pass it. Tonight, Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) introduced legislation to ensure that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) continues to make disability compensation and pension payments to veterans in the event of an extended government shutdown.
“We must not let our veterans be counted among the House Republicans’ hostages,” Sanders said this evening.
While many services provided by VA – including healthcare – would be protected even during a shutdown, funding for other vitally important programs for veterans are not protected. These programs include mandatory benefits for low-income and disabled veterans, along with education and vocational rehabilitation benefits.
“Losing these payments could have a devastating impact, especially on severely wounded veterans who are unable to work and depend on the VA checks,” Sanders said.
It is hard for me to imagine anyone voting against this bill, which protects mandatory compensation and pension benefits for veterans and their families, including benefits to the survivors of deceased veterans. It would also enable veterans to continue taking advantage of their post-9/11 GI Bill and other VA educational programs.
Sanders' bill would allow VA to continue to pay these mandatory benefits to veterans.
This legislation is similar to H.R. 3210, passed the Senate by unanimous consent earlier today, which mandates that pay will continue for our active-duty military in the event of a shutdown.
I will keep you posted here on the bill's expected march to law. The original cosponsors of Sanders’ bill were Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.).
To read the bill, click here.