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Veterans bill passes House with Stutzman reforms

 

The House of Representatives has passed H.R. 1627, the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012. Sections 706 and 707 of the legislation include H.R. 1657 and H.R. 2302 respectively, bills authored by Congressman Marlin Stutzman to punish fraud and increase transparency in the VA.

“This important legislation will make an immediate difference for our nation’s veterans. I’m proud that members from both sides of the aisle came together to serve our heroes,” Stutzman said. “I’m also grateful that the bill includes provisions I’ve worked on over the past months. Section 706 makes certain that firms that intentionally misrepresent themselves as veteran or service disabled veteran-owned small businesses will face stiff penalties. Section 707 promotes transparency and openness by making sure that the VA provides a quarterly report to Congress on the costs of the department’s conferences. Each year, the VA spends millions of dollars on conferences and while we understand the need for such meetings, recent history is sufficient to demand an accounting so Congress can provide proper oversight of such spending.”

In February 2011 during an 11-day conference in Scottsdale, Ariz., the VA incurred a total cost of $221,500, including $97,000 in consulting services. Stutzman, chairman of the Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity, offered legislation to prevent these abuses.

The Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012 now awaits the President’s signature. It will bring immediate VA healthcare to Camp Lejeune veterans and their families who have been diagnosed with a disease related to the water contamination that occurred at the base between 1957 and 1987. Additionally, it increases VA accountability to veterans by streamlining the disability claims process, ensuring transparency, protecting veterans from sexual assault, and modernizing the VA’s business model.