Rose’s Bipartisan Bill to Increase VA Transparency Passes House
House also passes Rose’s provision to provide financial relief for Gold Star Families
Washington, February 26, 2020
Watch Rose’s speech on the House floor HERE.
The House of Representatives passed Congressman Max Rose’s bipartisan VA Reporting Transparency Act last night which will increase transparency and accountability at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Rose spoke on the House floor urging passage prior to the legislation being passed by unanimous consent. The House also passed bipartisan legislation to help Gold Star families which included a Rose provision to provide financial relief to dependents of an injured or fallen servicemember.
“When Congress mandates that the VA produces reports on the staffing levels of their nurses, or how the VA prevents fraud, waste, abuse, or how the Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection truly keeps our VA employees safe, this information is useless if it is not made available to the general public in an accessible manner,” said Rose, an Army combat veteran and Member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, in a speech on the House floor urging passage. “It’s valuable to the nearly 9 million veterans enrolled in the VA health care, and it’s valuable to every American who wants to make sure that their tax dollars are being used for the best possible care that our veterans deserve. That’s exactly why I introduced this bill.”
Congress often mandates the VA issue reports on service and accessibility, including reports on nurse staffing, fraud prevention efforts, and the activities of the Office of Accountability and Whistleblower protection. Rose’s bipartisan VA Reporting Transparency Act requires these Congressionally-mandated reports to be made available on VA’s website (after redactions) and requires the VA to provide Congress with a list of reports that are no longer useful to improve efficiency for both Members and the VA.
In addition to Rose’s bill, the bipartisan Gold Star Spouses and Spouses of Injured Servicemembers Leasing Relief Expansion Act also passed the House of Representatives last night. It allows Gold Star spouses to avoid penalties from breaking an automobile or residential lease when their servicemember husband or wife sustains catastrophic injury or dies during military service. Rose passed an amendment to strengthen the legislation by requiring that the dependent of an injured or fallen servicemember also be granted this financial relief.
“When it comes to supporting our veterans and Gold Star Families, it’s not about politics or party, but doing the right thing for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice,” Rose said. “What’s often forgotten after the devastating loss of a family member in uniform is the financial impacts that follow. My hope is that by allowing family members and dependents to break car or residential leases if needed, this incredibly difficult time gets just a little bit easier.”
Rose has made fighting for veterans and expanding access to health care and transportation services a top priority. With the support of the VA, the House of Representatives passed Rose’s FIGHT Veterans Suicide Act, a bipartisan bill aimed at stemming the public health crisis of veteran suicides on VA campuses. Rose also secured language in the Department of Defense funding bill to change a policy that causes servicemembers and veterans on Staten Island to receive hundreds of dollars less per month for housing than the other four boroughs.
Thank you Madam Speaker,
Chairman Takano, thank you for your extraordinary leadership in this opportunity. Ranking Member Roe, thank you for always putting veterans first.
I rise today in support of my bill H.R. 4613, the VA Reporting Transparency Act.
As my fellow veterans know, the VA is unparalleled in its commitment to serving our veterans, and that goes from our nurses, to our physician’s assistants, our doctors, our VA police officers, and many other folks, veterans themselves, who spend each and every day working at the VA. That certainly holds true for the VA in my district, New York’s 11th Congressional District.
But for the largest integrated healthcare system in the United States, and for an agency that holds the lives of our nation’s heroes in their hands, we must ensure accountability. And let’s be clear, there is no accountability without transparency.
When Congress mandates that the VA produces reports on the staffing levels of their nurses, or how the VA prevents fraud, waste, abuse, or how the Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection truly keeps our VA employees safe, this information is useless if it is not made available to the general public in an accessible manner.
It’s valuable to the nearly 9 million veterans enrolled in the VA health care, and it’s valuable to every American who wants to make sure that their tax dollars are being used for the best possible care that our veterans deserve. That’s exactly why I introduced this bill.
The VA Reporting Transparency Act requires that the VA have public access to the legislatively requested reports that they produce. This access must be free, without any registration or limitations required, and the report must be posted no later than 45 days after it is submitted.
This is a no brainer, it’s common sense, it’s an opportunity for the VA to set a precedent that other federal departments will follow.
We made a promise to our soldiers that when they came home, we’d be there for them. This bill is a perfect case in point for how we can do just that.
I’d like to thank my colleagues on the House Veterans Affairs Committee – Congressman Gil Cisneros of California, a Navy veteran, and Congressman Greg Steube, a fellow Army vet, for their support of this legislation.
I urge my colleagues to support this legislation, and I yield the balance of my time.