*Update: On Jan. 10, the president signed H.R. 4057 and S. 3202 into law.
On Sunday night, the House passed the final versions of two VFW-supported pieces of veterans’ legislation with overwhelming bipartisan support. The bills now await the president’s signature, which the VFW anticipates in the coming days.
Congress also avoided the fiscal cliff late Tuesday night by passing a bill that postpones mandatory budget cuts until at least February. Though the deal is not a permanent solution, the VFW was happy to see that legislators ensured no additional burdens would be placed on disabled veterans by scrapping the plans for chained consumer price index, or CPI.
The VFW’s bill designed to improve consumer resources for veterans, H.R. 4057, passed the House by a vote of 392-3, and a veterans’ benefits improvement package, S. 3203, passed by a vote of 393-0.
To find out how your representative voted on H.R. 4057, click here.
To find out how your representative voted on S. 3202, click here.
H.R. 4057 reinforces an earlier presidential executive order to ensure that student-veterans have access to quality information before choosing an academic program, and clear recourse mechanisms should they become victims of fraud, waste or abuse. Last week, the VFW outlined how H.R. 4057 made its way through a reluctant Congress in the final days of the term.
S. 3202, the Dignified Burial and Other Veterans' Benefits Improvement Act of 2012, reinforces several top VFW priorities, such as affording religious protections to grieving families at national cemeteries, offering transition assistance program resources to separated service members, commissioning an open air burn pit registry for veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, and turning over control of Clark Cemetery in the Philippines to the American Battlefield Monuments Commission.
Your VFW made headlines last year after VFW honor guards were told they could not conduct burial services for veterans without prior approval from National Cemetery administrators. VFW National Legislative Director Ray Kelley and Texas VFW District 4 Senior Vice Commander Jay Sanders testified on the issue in June, calling for the kind of solution included in S. 3202, designed to protect the religious rights of grieving families.
Clark Cemetery has also long been on the radar of the VFW, since the U.S. Air Force withdrew from Clark Air Force Base after nearby Mt. Pinatubo erupted in 1991. Recognizing that American service members were interned at the cemetery, Philippines VFW Post 2485 assumed responsibility for the cemetery in 1994, maintaining the cemetery with no support from the U.S. government. By ceding control of Clark Cemetery to the American Battlefield Monuments Commission, the VFW fulfills a national resolution passed at last summer’s national convention, by offering the necessary resources to honor the 8,600 American service members buried at the facility. To read VFW’s testimony in support of Clark Cemetery, click here.