Timing is everything … November 1st, the day that SNAP [Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program] which provide food assistance for qualified families, including veterans, saw a cut in benefits, John Kline (R-MN-02) issued a press release touting military veteran-related legislation that the House approved this week.
Too bad, he did not mention that the House refused to vote on H.R.3108 – Extend Not Cut SNAP Benefits Act – which would have forestalled those cuts.
Did you know that in 2011, approximately 1.5 million veterans, living in households with a net income below the federal poverty level, received food assistance. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, more than $100 million in food stamps were redeemed at military commissary stores in 2012.
Heck, even if Mr. Kline did not want to extend food assistance to all, he could have joined Betty McCollum (D-MN-04) and sponsored H.R. 2038, known as the Disabled Veterans Nutrition Fairness Act of 2013. H.R. 2038 would strengthen the ability of SNAP to respond to hunger among disabled veterans while their disability claims are pending with the VA office.
Instead, Mr. Kline self-promotes that he “helped champion” three pieces of bipartisan legislation –
H.R. 2189 – To establish a Commission or Task Force to evaluate the backlog of Disability Claims of the Department of Veterans Affairs
H.R. 1405 – Secretary of Veterans Affairs to provide veterans’ case-tracking information
H.R. 1742 – Vulnerable Veterans Housing Reform Act of 2013
While it is true that all these bills were approved in a bipartisan manner, in all fairness, Mr. Kline could have mentioned that only one Representative voted NO (that would be Mark Sanford (R-SC-01) … and that he was not a co-sponsor of any of these bills. In fact, these bills have been lingering in the House for months and could have been voted since May …
Also failed to be mentioned by Mr. Kline is that the GOP Shutdown furloughed of 7000 employees of the Veterans Benefits … impacting processing of claims, etc.
Mr. Kline though does self-promotes his “Keep Faith with TRICARE Prime Act” which ensures these veterans could keep the health coverage they earned … yet fails to mention media reports that during the shutdown negotiations (October 10th)
In exchange for further means-testing of Medicare benefits, as well as reform of federal workers’ pensions and Tricare health benefits for veterans, House Republicans would give Democrats $100 billion in sequestration relief over two years and open the government that Monday.
So, Mr. Kline is telling his constituents that he is a “champion” yet, the House Republican leadership is willing to reform TRICARE benefits.
In summary, what do we know … Veterans are feeling the pinch from food stamp cuts but John Kline and, all but Mark Sanford, approved some legislation that have been sitting around for months.
And this week, John Kline and the rest of the House Armed Services Committee are off instead of considering any of the following bills :
H.R.32 : Military Surviving Spouses Equity Act.
H.R.153 : Veterans Outreach Improvement Act of 2013.
H.R.164 : Disabled Vet Space A Travel.
H.R.179 : Franchise Education for Veterans Act.
H.R.257 : Veterans Health Equity Act of 2013.
H.R.288 : CHAMPVA Children’s Protection Act of 2013.
H.R.331 : VA Veteran Enrollment Reporting.
H.R.357 : GI Bill Tuition Fairness Act of 2013.
H.R.386 : Homes for Heroes Act of 2013.
H.R.435 : Military Enlistment Opportunity Act of 2013.
H.R.458 : Fallen Heroes Family Act of 2013.
H.R.562 : VRAP Extension Act of 2013.
H.R.595 : Veterans Education Equity Act of 2013.
H.R.635 : HEALTHY Vets Act of 2013.
H.R.683 : Military Spouses Equal Treatment Act.
H.R.834 : Veterans’ Efficiencies Through Savings Act of 2013.
H.R.844 : VetSuccess Enhancement Act.
H.R.883 : Disabled Vet GI Bill Transfer.
H.R.897 : VA Homeless Vet Definition.
H.R.902 : Keep Our Commitment to Veterans Act.
H.R.958 : Women Veterans and Other Health Care Improvements Act of 2013.
H.R.975 : Servicemember Mental Health Review Act.
H.R.1134 : Vet Rural Health Care Improvement.
H.R.1251 : Veteran Excellence Through Education Act of 2013.
H.R.1284 : VA Disabled Vet Beneficiary Travel Program.
H.R.1357 : VOW to Hire Heroes Act Training Amendment.
H.R.1360 : Military Retiree Survivor Comfort Act.
H.R.1453 : Work-Study for Student Veterans Act.
H.R.1521 : Disabled Veterans Red Tape Reduction Act.
H.R.1631 : Accessing Military Education Benefits Act.
H.R.1705 : Rehabilitative Therapy Parity for Military Beneficiaries Act.
H.R.1725 : Veterans Mental Health Accessibility Act.
H.R.1774 : Wounded Veteran Job Security Act.
H.R.1796 : Troop Talent Act of 2013.
H.R.1816 : Veterans’ STEM Education Program.
H.R.1980 : Quicker Veterans Benefits Delivery Act.
H.R.2056 : Veteran Employment Transition Act.
H.R.2150 : Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Programs Reauthorization Act of 2013.
H.R.2327 : Veterans Economic Opportunity Administration Act of 2013
H.R.2654 : Veterans and Servicemembers Employment Rights and Housing Act of 2013
H.R.2749 : Veterans Education Transparency Act.
H.R.2882 : Improving Opportunities for Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses Act
H.R.2906 : Fairness to Veterans for Infrastructure Investment Act of 2013.
… and there are plenty of other proposals … and somehow, don’t be surprised when any of these are approved that John Kline will issue a press release praising his efforts … but until then, Mr. Kline, how about working with Betty McCollum and supporting H.R. 2038, the Disabled Veterans Nutrition Fairness Act of 2013, then you can all yourself a “Champion” of “Legislation on Behalf of Our Veterans.”
NOTE : Artwork is from Mike Thompson and the Detroit Free Press.