(U.S. Senate) – The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee today cleared 25 bills to better serve veterans nationwide—including 11 priorities authored by Chairman Jon Tester to deliver stronger benefits and health care under the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The Committee also advanced Kurt D. DelBene to serve as VA’s Assistant Secretary for Information and Technology—a position responsible for delivering adaptable, secure, and cost-effective technology services to VA employees and veterans.
“I’m glad the Committee took decisive action today to advance a critical nominee for VA, along with 25 bills on behalf of veterans in Montana and across the country,” said Tester. “I’m especially proud we cleared a number of my bills to tackle the claims backlog, improve rural veterans’ access to health care, support survivors of military sexual trauma, and meet the mental health care needs of post-9/11 veterans. These efforts reflect a continued priority of improving benefits and services for our nation’s veterans and their families, and I’ll keep pushing until we get them across the finish line.”
The Committee considered—and passed—the following bills with backing from the Chairman:
Department of Veterans Affairs Information Technology Reform Act of 2021 – Bipartisan legislation to increase transparency and accountability through Congressional oversight into proposed and current information technology systems and management at VA.
Making Advances in Mammography and Medical Options (MAMMO) for Veterans Act – Bipartisan, bicameral legislation to strengthen and expand access to high-quality breast cancer screening and life-saving care for veterans.
FY2022 Veterans Affairs Major Medical Facility Authorization Act – Bipartisan legislation authorizing several VA construction projects to serve veterans for fiscal year 2022.
Rural Veterans Travel Enhancement Act of 2021 – Bipartisan, bicameral legislation to improve permanently expand travel assistance programs and advance travel reimbursements for low-income veterans.
Guard, Reserve, and Active Duty (GRAD) Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Educational Assistance Parity Act Educational Assistance Parity Act of 2021 – Bipartisan legislation to expand GI Bill benefits to select National Guard and Reserve duty statuses.
Strengthening Oversight for Veterans Act of 2021 – Bipartisan legislation to provide VA’s Office of Inspector General the authority to subpoena testimony from former VA employees who have left federal service, former contractor personnel who performed work for the Department, or other potentially relevant individuals during the course of its inspections, reviews, and investigations.
Veterans’ Prostate Cancer Treatment and Research Act – Bipartisan legislation to expand treatment and research of prostate cancer to help diagnose and treat veterans through VA, which is the number one cancer diagnosed by the Veterans Health Administration.
Servicemembers and Veterans Empowerment and Support Act of 2021 – Bipartisan, bicameral legislation to improve MST survivors’ access to benefits and health care, as well as bolster MST claims processing and access to MST care for former Guard and Reserve members.
Reform and Update Rural Access to Local (RURAL) Exams Act of 2021 – Bipartisan legislation to improve rural veterans’ access to medical disability examinations, by enhancing the transparency of the medical disability examination program and revamping how VA delivers exams to rural and housebound veterans.
Post-9/11 Veterans' Mental Health Care Improvement Act of 2021 – Bipartisan legislation to strengthen VA’s mental health care workforce, expand care options, and support mental health research at the Department.
Veterans Benefits Improvement Act of 2021 – Bipartisan legislation to tackle the Department’s claims backlog, increase transparency over the claims process, and provide veterans with timelier access to their earned benefits.
Student Veterans Transparency and Protection Act of 2021 – Bipartisan legislation to improve veterans’ access to information about higher education and allow the VA to restore benefits that veterans use at schools subject to civil enforcement.
Department of Veterans Affairs Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Processing Claims Improvement Act of 2021 – Bipartisan legislation to improve VA’s post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) claims processing training, to ensure veterans experiencing PTSD have access to the health care, treatment, and compensation.
Chaplains Memorial Preservation Act – Bipartisan legislation to allow the National Conference on Ministry to the Armed Forces to update the Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish chaplains’ memorials at Arlington National Cemetery with the names of all military chaplains who died on active duty.
GI Bill National Emergency Extended Deadline Act of 2021 – Bipartisan legislation to protect veterans’ educational benefits from expiring due to institutional closures or other factors caused by the COVID-19 national emergency.
Vet Center Improvement Act of 2021 – Bicameral legislation to mandate recommendations from a Government Accountability Office investigation requested by Senators Tester and Reed, requiring VA to evaluate productivity expectations for readjustment counselors at Vet Centers in order to assess the impact of these expectations on the welfare of counselors and on the care provided to veterans. It also creates a pilot program at Vet Centers to assist veteran and servicemembers experiencing food insecurity.
Burial Equity for Guards and Reserves Act of 2021 – Bipartisan, bicameral legislation to ensure all members of Reserve components and the National Guard are eligible to be buried in state veterans cemeteries, so long as their service was terminated under honorable conditions.
Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General Training Act of 2021 – Bipartisan legislation requiring VA to provide training to employees on reporting waste, fraud, and abuse, in coordination with the VA Office of the Inspector General.
Brian Neuman Department of Veterans Affairs Clothing Allowance Improvement Act of 2021 – Bipartisan legislation to improve the application and review process of VA for clothing allowance claims submitted by veterans.
Every Veteran Counts Act of 2021 – Legislation directing VA to establish and regularly update a database of veterans’ demographic data.
Supporting Families of the Fallen Act – Legislation to increase the VA’s Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance and Veterans’ Group Life Insurance coverage—upgrading these coverage amounts for the first time since 2005.
Long-Term Care Veterans Choice Act – Bipartisan legislation requiring VA to expand veterans’ access to the Medical Foster Home program—which allows veterans in need of long-term care to choose to live in the home of a VA-approved caregiver, rather than institutional care.
Reaching Every Homeless Veteran Act of 2021 – Bipartisan, bicameral legislation to expand the Department of Labor’s Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program to all 50 states and U.S. territories. This program offers customized employment and training services to homeless or at-risk-of-homelessness veterans to address their specific barriers to employment.
A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to clarify the role of doctors of podiatric medicine in the Department of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes – Bipartisan legislation that aligns the position of podiatrists with that of physicians for pay and grade purposes within the Veterans Health Administration.
A bill to rename the Provo Veterans Center in Orem, Utah, as the “Col. Gail S. Halvorsen 'Candy Bomber' Veterans Center.”