As Congress gears up for its longest session between now and the November mid-term elections, there are 3 areas of concerns for military members and veterans. Although not the only business left unfinished, it will be telling to see how Congress addresses the needs of current service men and women, as well as veterans. This session will last for 28 days and, other than a week or two in late September/early October, Congress won’t meet again until after the elections.
After the election, very little will get passed by the lame duck Congress until early spring, when the new Senators and Representatives take office.
- The Veteran Affairs Department reform bill. What to do about this scandal ridden organization and providing health-care for our veterans? Everyone has an opinion, including me, but throwing money at the problem until it goes away seems like more of the same policies we have been seeing for quite a few years. The VA needs to be restructured and cleaned out. Robert McDonald, former CEO of Proctor & Gamble, has a huge job ahead of him, and not much time to do it in. Although nominating a corporate executive was a bold move, fixing the culture of careerism and putting the VA on the right path in 30 months is a tall order. But without the tools to fix the problem, including the right to dismiss employees free of union oversight, it will be impossible and our veterans will be the ones to suffer.
- The defense appropriation bill. There are budget cuts across the board in all branches of the military and deep concerns that not enough money is being budgeted to continue our military commitments around the world. Whether the military will use this as an opportunity to get leaner or to undermine our abilities around the globe remain to be seen. If Mr. McDonald can straighten up the VA in 30 months, I would suggest that the next President nominate him as Secretary of Defense to address the financial issues we are having with the services.
- Funding for military construction and VA operations for fiscal year 2015. Unless there is stronger evidence to the contrary, Congress is going to have to be pushing the VA operations budget up over the next couple of years to pay for the VA reform bill and the influx of new veterans into the VA system when they are allowed and encouraged to use private hospitals. Unfortunately, I have yet to see any Congressmen or women addressing those concerns.
“Congress… has a lot of governing to do.”
There are many other concerns facing our lawmakers and I really don’t expect much from them. Given their track record, it is hard to be excited about this Congress. I am a firm believer that the government that governs the least governs the best, but, having said that, Congress, during this short 28-day session, has a lot of governing to do.
Which of these 3 points matters most to you?
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the opinion of the writer and do not reflect the policies of this website or organization.
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