Congressional Record Statement of Senator Daniel K. Akaka
Mr. President, I wish to speak about the meaning of "by request" legislation and more specifically about my continuation of a longstanding practice in the Veterans' Affairs Committee of the chairman introducing legislation at the request of the administration.
While I expect that those who deal regularly with the Veterans' Affairs Committee, such as the established veterans service organizations, understand the meaning of a bill introduced "by request," I have recently become aware that there are some veterans who are unfamiliar with this practice and who, therefore, have misinterpreted my recent introduction of certain "by request" legislation as support for the passage of the bills into law. This is not the case.
As our colleagues know, periodically the administration sends forward to the Congress legislation for consideration. Those measures that fall within the jurisdiction of the Veterans' Affairs Committee are referred by the Parliamentarian to our committee. In a tradition that began in the earliest days of the committee, the chairman, as a courtesy to the administration, introduces such bills on a "by request" basis. This is a courtesy that has generally been extended to every administration and by every chairman, regardless of the party affiliation of the administration or chairman, and one that I am pleased to continue.
When I introduce legislation "by request," I am taking no position on the legislation. In fact, I introduce such legislation without including any statement or explanatory materials. I do so for the express purpose of both accommodating the administration and ensuring that others are aware of the proposed legislation so that they might analyze it and, if they wish, comment upon it. As chairman, I am committed to the development of the best possible policy in the area of veterans issues and I firmly believe that this goal is most successfully achieved with the free exchange of ideas, not by stifling different points of view.
During this Congress, in accordance with this practice, I have introduced four "by request" bills, S. 1757, S. 2025, S. 2026, and S. 2027. It is one of these measures, S. 2026, relating to certain Agent Orange issues, that has generated the most confusion among some veterans. I hope that my explanation of "by request" legislation helps to clear up these misunderstandings.
I have taken no position on any of these four bills and simply introduced them as a professional courtesy to the administration. Indeed, at this point, I do not know whether these bills will receive consideration by the committee. For those who have views on some or all of these measures, I welcome your input. I ask that in providing your views you recognize that my introduction of "by request" legislation should not be interpreted as a reflection of my views on the content of any such bill.
September 11, 2007