Honoring the service and sacrifice of our Veterans, members of the military, and their families is one my greatest and proudest responsibilities as your Congressman.
One of my top priorities is to support our Veterans and Maine’s military service members.
When service members return to civilian life, it is imperative that they receive excellent health care, help with the benefits they have earned, and support with other issues that may arise.
Instead of playing games and politics with procedural votes in Congress, like many politicians in Washington are known for doing, I voted in support of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act to help provide more funding for our VA and troops than last year – totaling $76.6 billion.
This appropriation ensures the VA will be adequately funded for Fiscal Year 2016 – a 5.6% funding increase from FY15 – while improving the Department’s ability to better serve our Veterans.
I felt it was appropriate to support a VA increase. I voted to increase VA funding because Veterans are a priority.
This legislation will speed up VA claims processing by increasing funding for those services by $163 million. It will also provide $233 million for the modernization of the VA electronic health record system, thereby helping our Veterans receive speedy and effective service.
The funding bill also provides $48.6 billion for VA Medical Services – $3.4 billion above FY15 – to help our local heroes get the mental health care they need when transitioning back to civilian life.
Most importantly, this bill provides the much needed oversight to the Department of Veterans Affairs to help ensure our Veterans don’t slip through the cracks. As reports show that the wait lines at VA hospitals has not improved, it’s imperative for Congress to continue to hold the VA accountable and fight for our Veterans as they fought for us.
Unfortunately, in the U.S. Senate some Democrats do not share this same belief as they are currently blocking a pay raise for our troops in order to increase funding for President Obama’s overreaching Internal Revenue Service and Environmental Protection Agencies. Our service members should not be used as political ploys in Congress.
In Congress, I will always support bills that will help our Veterans get the health care and benefits they were promised, earned and deserve.
That is why I voted to increase VA funding for the fiscal year.