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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  September 16, 2014 7:00pm-8:01pm EDT

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the speaker pro tempore: pursuant to clause 8 of rule 20, the chair will postpone further proceedings today on motions to suspend the rules on which a recorded vote or the yeas and nays are ordered. or on which the vote incurs objection under clause 6 of rule 20. recorded votes on postponed questions will be taken later. the house will come to order. please take your conversations off the floor.
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he house will come to order. the house is not in order. please remove your onversations from the floor. for what purpose does the gentleman from colorado seek recognition? >> mr. speaker, i move to suspend the rules and pass h.r. 5404 as amended. the department of veterans affairs expiring authorities act of 2014. the speaker pro tempore: the clerk will report the title of the bill. the clerk: h.r. 5404, a bill to amend title 38, united states code, to extend certain expiring provisions of law administered by the secretary of veterans affairs and for other purposes. the speaker pro tempore: pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from colorado, mr. lamborn, and the gentlelady
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from arizona, mrs. kirkpatrick, will each control 20 minutes. the chair recognizes the gentleman from colorado. mr. lamborn: mr. speaker, i ask unanimous consent that all members have five legislative days in which to revise and extend their remarks on h.r. 5404 as amended. the speaker pro tempore: without objection. mr. lamborn: mr. speaker, i yield myself as much time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. lamborn: thank you, mr. speaker. the amendment to h.r. 5404 would extend a number of expiring current authorities and critical programs at both the department of veterans affairs and the department of labor. these programs include authorizations for veterans health care and homeless programs, benefits for disabled veterans and home loan programs. these noncontroversial programs are set to expire at the end of this fiscal oracle der year. these are not -- or calendar year. these are not new programs and the cost are fully offset or have been assumed in the baseline budget for this year. the amendment to h.r. 5404 would also make certain technical and conforming anges to public law 113-146,
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the veterans access, choice and accountability act of 2014. these changes are needed to ensure proper and swift implementation of this important law that provides veterans whose care at v.a. is delayed with a choice to obtain private care and provides the secretary the tools he needs to hold senior v.a. managers accountable. the changes have the support of the majority and minority leadership of the senate committee on veterans affairs -- veterans' affairs. mr. speaker, i urge all of my colleagues to join me in supporting this legislation and reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the chair recognizes the gentlewoman from arizona. mrs. kirkpatrick: thank you, mr. speaker. i yield myself such time as i may consume. i would like to thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for all of the hard work and dedication that went into 5404, the department of veterans affairs expiring authorities act of 2014. this bill would extend a number of important programs
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administered by the department of veterans affairs. we must ensure that the v.a. has the resources and the authority to provide high-quality health care services and benefits that veterans have earned and deserve. no matter where they choose to live. h.r. 5404 extends the department's authority to deliver nursing home care to our veterans, give child care assistance for veterans so they can make their medical appointments, and provide counseling retreats for our women veterans. for veterans who live in highly rural areas like my district, this bill extends v.a.'s authority to give grants to veterans service organizations to transport our rural veterans to their medical appointments, which is critical for increasing access to v.a. health care. this bill also extends critical
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homeless programs that the v.a. needs to end veteran homelessness by 2015. programs such as housing assistance, financial assistance, counseling and reintegration services will continue so that veterans who experience homelessness or are at risk of being homeless have a safety net of services to help themselves in their times of need. finally, h.r. 5404 contains several extensions that will assist the department in its efforts to provide specially to veterans who have difficulty getting around their own homes. permit the v.a. to recruit and retain needed medical specialists, improve education benefit programs and allow the v.a. to maintain an effective, functioning home loan guarantee program.
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i urge my colleagues to support h.r. 5404 and i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the chair recognizes the gentleman from colorado. mr. lamborn: thank you, mr. speaker. i now recognize representative jeff denham of california, the sponsor of the bill, and a member of the veterans' affairs committee who has made many important contributions to the welfare of veterans such as this bill we're considering right now. i recognize representative enham for three minutes. mr. denham: thank you, mr. chairman. as we continue to tackle the pressing need for v.a. health care reform, the last thing our veterans need is even more uncertainty with the many other benefits that have an equally important impact on their lives. h.r. 5404, the department of veterans affairs expiring authorities act, extends several important v.a. authorities that support the services they rely on every single day. as current military forces overseas draw down, our country
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must prepare to welcome back thousands of returning soldiers, many of whom are young and aspiring to build a new life for themselves and their loved ones. for the next year, veterans can continue to utilize programs that help them pay off school debt, for health care education and buy affordable homes, helping their transition to civilian life be an easier one. for those veterans that require more day to day medical care, they can continue to qualify for child care assistance and especially adaptive housing grants. as well as access, expanded health services, such as those provided by the v.a.'s 70-plus mobile vet centers around the country. transportation services to v.a. medical facilities will also continue, giving peace of mind to the many disabled or rural-based vets that are too often restricted by mobility or distance. in rural districts like mine across the country, veterans often travel over 90 miles for an appointment, disrupting their lives and causing
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physical and financial hardship. additionally, this bill reinforces our fight against homelessness, by expanding rehabilitation, counseling and housing programs to help these underserved veterans get back on their feet. since 2009, veterans' homelessness has dropped 23%, largely due to the success of these services. whenever i travel back to my district, and meet with local veteran constituents and organizations, it's clear that these grant programs are making a real difference. in california's central valley, catholic charities of the archdiocese of stockton have received a grant from the v.a. that is helping preserve 791 households in san joaquin county from the threat of homelessness. that's 791 families who have a chance to build a stable home life and keep their kids in school. and as co-chair of the veterans jobs caucus, i place especially high importance on the continuance of our central reintegration and job training
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programs. these hardworking men and women gain the skills and qualities that are highly valued by employers. we must do all we can to connect them with the resources and training that they need to worthwhile jobs that will bring this financial security and dignity to their lives. in closing, i'd just like to thank ranking member and the chairman, as well as all of the committee for their hard work in putting this bill together. this is a great bipartisan bill that will continue to help the lives of those that have given everything for this -- freedoms of our country. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlewoman from arizona. kirk i, kirk reserve. the speaker pro tempore: -- mrs. kirkpatrick: i reserve. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from colorado. mr. lamborn: i'd like to recognize the gentlelady from indiana who is a member of the veterans' affairs committee and has made very solid and important contributions for veterans, for three minutes. the speaker pro tempore: without objection. ms. walorski: thank you, mr. chairman. i rise today in support of house resolution 5404, this
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legislation will continue to protect many of america's veterans who swore to protect and defend this great nation. including 54,000 in my district who depend on the v.a. for care and support. earlier this summerers i served as a member of the v.a. conference committee and my fellow conferees and i were able to work together and again proving that helping vets is not political or partisan, it's american. when that legislation was signed into law, i said it was the first step forward, reforming the v.a. today's legislation is yet another step in the right direction. house resolution 5404 would extends a number of important veterans service programs to vets in rural areas, homeless vets, vets with mental illness, all in an effort to improve their quality of life. of the eight million veterans enrolled in the v.a. health care system, roughly three million live in rural areas. these vets live 30 or more miles from their nearest v.a. and must travel long distances to receive care. this legislation would give
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more funding to v.s.o.'s, to drive their vets to doctors' appointments, increasing their access to care. this bill also funds programs to help our homeless veterans get back on their feet and reduce the number of homeless veterans. it also helps to fund job training, counseling and placement services for those vets so they can find a good paying job. additionally, and just as importantly, this bill also addresses the suffering to -- those suffering from mental health issues. this will help fund programs to help vets with mental illness, with greater outreach, rehabilitation services, care and treatment. today's an important opportunity as members of congress to take another step forward towards meaningful reform and take another step in the right direction. today we stand together to help our nation's heroes and we owe it to our veterans to provide them with nothing but the best. i urge my colleagues to support this resolution and i yield back the balance of my time.
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the speaker pro tempore: the gentlewoman from arizona is recognized. mrs. kirkpatrick: i reserve. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from colorado. mr. lamborn: does the gentlelady have further speakers? mrs. kirkpatrick: mr. speaker, i do not. mr. lamborn: do not? the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from colorado. mr. lamborn: i continue to eserve, mr. speaker. the speaker pro tempore: go ahead. mrs. kirkpatrick: mr. speaker, i have no further speakers. i urge my colleagues to support h.r. 5404 and send this important must-pass measure to the senate, to ensure that these important programs and services continue and i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from colorado. mr. lamborn: thank you. i thank the gentlelady and i too urge all members of the house to support h.r. 5404 as amended and i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the question is, will how it's suspend the rules and pass -- will the house suspend the rules and pass the bill, h.r. 5404, as amended. those in favor say aye.
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those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, 2/3 of those voting having responded in the affirmative, the rules are suspended, the bill is passed and, without objection, the motion to reconsider is laid on the table. for what purpose does the gentleman from colorado seek recognition? mr. lamborn: mr. speaker, i move to suspend the rules and pass h.r. 3593 as amended, the v.a. construction assistance act of 2013. the speaker pro tempore: the clerk will report the title of the bill. the clerk: h.r. 3593, a bill to amend title 3, united states code, to improve the construction of major medical facilities and for other purposes. the speaker pro tempore: pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from colorado, mr. lamborn, and the gentlewoman from arizona, mrs. kirkpatrick, will each control 20 minutes. the chair recognizes the gentleman from colorado. mr. lamborn: mr. speaker, i ask unanimous consent that all members have five legislative days in which to revise and extend their remarks on h.r. 3593, as amended. the speaker pro tempore: without objection. mr. lamborn: mr. speaker, i yield myself as much time as i
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may consume. and in a moment i will yield to the bill's sponsor, mr. coffman, for a more detailed description, but the goal of this legislation is to improve the way v.a. manages its major construction projects. mr. speaker, it is no secret that v.a. has a poor track record in managing major medical facility projects. major construction projects are routinely completed years late and tens of millions of dollars overbudget. unfortunately the critically needed v.a. hospital being constructed in aurora, colorado, for instance, has run into major problems. as have a handful of others around the country. this legislation would direct the inclusion of an outside entity, the army corps of engineers, which has a record of on-time, on-budget completion of projects, to assist in the management of v.a.'s major facility construction efforts. no longer can veterans afford to wait years for needed facilities to open. this bill finally would move v.a. away from the status quo which clearly has not served veterans over the -- or the
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taxpayers well at all. and i would like to commend my colleague and friend, representative mike coffman, and applaud his leadership on this important issue. with that i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: thank you. the gentlewoman from arizona is recognized. mrs. kirkpatrick: thank you, mr. speaker. i yield myself such time as i may consume. i'm pleased that we are bringing up a bill that i introduced, along with the chairman of the oversight and investigation committee, mr. coffman, representative coffman. this bill takes aim at two of the v.a.'s most chronic problems, accountability and efficiency. it is also an attempt to make real reforms within the v.a. construction process. this bill may not have all the answers, but it is a step forward in a discussion we must have on idressing the facility needs of the v.a. and ensuring that we are addressing the access requirements in a timely and cost effective manner.
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we have seen time and again how v.a. has underperformed in the management of its multibillion dollar construction budget. last year, the general accounting office testified to the committee on a number of significant cost overruns and completion delays. there may be some disagreement on the metrics and the magnitude of v.a. shortcomings in this area, and i do not wish to note that v. -- and i do wish to note that v.a. has made steps in the right direction. but in the end, we are faced with the very real issue that v.a. needs additional expertise with construction management and the accusation of major medical facilities. i believe that asking the army corps of engineering to --
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engineers to provide the eex-peer tess -- expertise they have to the v.a. is a step we should explore. i'm hopeful we'll pass this bill today and continue the discussion with the members of this committee, the v.a., and the army corps of engineers. this legislation shows what we can do by working across the aisle. it would codify some of the g.a.o. recommendations from 2013 as well as other industry best practice. h.r. 3593 would also provide technical assistance to the v.a. in the form of special project managers and design construction evaluations on particularly troubled major construction projects. while i recognize the corps of engineers and v.a. have some reservations with the bill, i believe we can work within the
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confines of the legislation -- legislative language to ensure a positive outcome for all parties. i urge my colleagues to support h.r. 3593 as part of our role as watchdogs on behalf of veterans and taxpayers. i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from colorado. mr. lamborn: i thank the gentlelady from arizona for her support of this good piece of legislation. i would like to recognize representative mike coffman of colorado a member of the v.a. committee, a subcommittee chairman of the committee and the sponsor of this bill, for three minutes. mr. coffman: i thank the gentleman from colorado. as chairman of the veterans affairs committee oversight and investigations subcommittee, i introduced house resolution 3593, the v.a. construction assistance act, along with my friend and ranking member ann kirkpatrick of arizona to address significant problems
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with the v.a.'s construction practices, problems which became public knowledge through our committee's -- our subcommittee's work. my proposed reforms are designed to speed construction and rein in the out of control costs of three major v.a. regional projects under development in arather row -- aurora, colorado, new orleans, louisiana, and orlando, florida. we introduced this legislation late last year based on the investigative work of our subcommittee and in response to a government accountability office report that found that v.a.'s major construction projects have been mired in mismanagement. the report concluded early last year that these projects are more than $360 million each over budget and almost three years on average behind schedule.
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the v.a. construction assistance act implements g.a.o. recommended reforms by assigning medical equipment planners to these construction projects and streamlining the change order process. the proposal also gos a step further by requiring the assignment of an emergency manager from the army corps of engineers, independent of the v.a., to oversee these projects. and only these three major medical facility projects currently under construction. the g.a.o. specifically singled out the army corps of engineers as an organization with a record of building similar projects within budget and on schedule for the department of defense. our veterans cannot simply hope that the situation improves. we must get these construction projects delivered so our nation's veterans receive the
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health care services that they have earned while at the same time protecting the taxpayers from massive cost overruns. notably, this bill is supported by the veterans of foreign wars and the american legion. as such, i urge each of my colleagues to support this common sense, bipartisan legislation and i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlewoman from arizona is recognize. mrs. kirkpatrick: i would like to yield four minutes to the gentlewoman from florida, ms. brown. ms. brown: thank you. and thank you ranking member kirkpatrick for yielding time to me. i rise in opposition to this legislation. let me just say, i understand i'm the longest serving member on the v.a., 23 years, and i understand, don't confuse me with too many facts. but this bill only includes
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hree projects. denver, colorado, orlando, florida, one we've been working on for over 25 years, and new orleans, louisiana. and these projects, all of them, in the process to inject a special project manager. the orlando v.a. medical center 94% complete and construction is planned to be completed by the end of this year. new orleans is 52% complete and anticipation is scheduled for february, 2016. the v.a. and the contractor have signed an agreement to a firm, fixed price and are working
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closely together on the delivery of this project. i understand that the gentleman from colorado is concerned about the denver, v. -- about the denver v.a. medical center. however, the spronlt 55% complete and any efforts to change the leadership mid stream would only delay things further and cause -- cost our veterans time and money that could be better spent on their health care. as a senior member on the committee of transportation and infrastructure, i know firsthand the amount of critical infrastructure work that the corps of engineers have accomplished around the country. ith nearly $6 billion in backlog of authorized civil work projects for the corps of engineers and with new critical port related projects included
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in the recent passage of the water resource development act, there are grave concerns by the army corps and i want to ask unanimous consent to put the letter in the record from the army corps, their abilities to participate in this project, especially the cost that it would relate to the army corps and with prior experience, the army corps has indicated that they -- this kind of agreement does not work. they presently have all the authorization they need to work sendv.a. and in fact, they he v.a. $377 million, 74 projects they already participate nationwide. they don't need additional authorization. hat this bill would do would
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only slow down the project in orlando. spent -- all the members from the orlando area, we have spent queers on this project. it is not just -- years on this project. it is not just the v.a.'s problem. for years we did not have any construction going on with the v.a. these projects, these last projects, we hadn't done any construction in the v.a. in 15 years. so certainly a lot of the expertise was gone. but now it is not in the best advantage to insert -- may i have an additional 30 seconds? it is not in the benefit to have additional responsibilities
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placed particularly in orlando at this time. we have a project that is close to completion. we want to bring this project in on time. y the time this bill, ever, is passed and signed into law, i'm hoping the veterans will be in the v.a. facility in orlando, florida. in addition, we have worked with them and the people that have handled it, it's not just the v.a. the people, the construction people, it's been a problem all along. i am not saying that the army corps cannot be helpful but at this time, they absolutely could not be helpful in this project, and so, as the gentleman, as we move forward, take orlando out of whatever you are proposing. it is too late.
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we are ready for our v.a. facility to open up in orlando, florida, and to serve the veterans of the central florida area. may god continue to bless america and certainly the veterans deserve to be able to move into the v.a. facility in the orlando-central florida area. i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from colorado. mr. lamb born: i recognize representative terry of nebraska for two minutes. the speaker pro tempore: without objection. mr. terry: thank you, mr. speaker. i want to thank mr. coffman for bringing this bill. i think it's extremely important and it directly affects the facility asnpatient well as veterans around the midwest area. the cost overruns of the denver, the aurora hospital as well as orlando and others, has been
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noted in the v.a. report, showing that these hospitals on average are 35 months delayed and sw between $300 million to $400 million over budget and it shows a serious inability of the v.a.'s construction and management subagency to manage and run these projects. i'm pleased that this legislation would require the v.a. to employ at least one special project manager if the corps of engineers and it's been noted by every speaker here today that the corps of engineers has a specialty and somewhat amazing ability to get projects done on time and on budget system of having their level of expertise injected into this, even if it's just an advisory or consulting role is an important first step. i would prefer that we just turned it all over, the v.a. hospital construction, to something like the corps of
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engineers but this is a legitimate, good first step in this process. now, our omaha facility remains number 23. it's been in that area now for six years and it looks like unless we improve this process and get their spending under control, that it could be more than a decade before our new v.a. in-patient, replacing an over 60-year-old building where they had no water for one 24-hour period because of the poor infrastructure. so that's how we're harming our veterans by not getting these projects done on time and within budget. again, i want to thank the gentleman from colorado for taking charge of this issue. and all of the conversations you and i have had about this over the last couple of years. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back. the gentlewoman from arizona. mrs. kirkpatrick: i reserve. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from colorado.
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mr. lamborn: i recognize the gentleman from colorado, mr. coffman, for such time as he may consume. the speaker pro tempore: without objection. mr. coffman: i thank the gentleman from colorado, mr. mb born, the -- -- mr. lamborn, and i think going back to this government accountability report that says that on average, these projects are $366 million over budget, on average these projects are 35 months behind schedule, so there are a number of recommendations that are taken right from this report. that are part of this bill. one recommendation that wasn't specifically in the bill but was mentioned in the bill by saying that, by referencing that the army corps of engineers builds basically the same probblingts for the department of defense. the hospitals on schedule and
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within budget. we're talking about, again, hundreds of millions of dollars wasted in every single facility that's not going to the health care that our veterans have earned, so i think it's only ghte move forward with this, not simply to be -- only to be fair to the men and women who have served us in uniform, who sacrificed so much in defense of this country, and giving them the benefits that they have earned through their service, but also out of respect to the taxpayers of the united states. who have basically had their hard-earned dollars wasted. . in building these projects with these mabsive cost overruns -- massive cost overruns. i've had countless meetings with the army corps of engineers and they said that they could not publicly state heir support for this, but i've gone -- given this legislation to them, said, come
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back to me if you have any issues with it. they did not, other than to say that they feel per speculatively they should be the ones managing these projects period. my bill does not address that perspective. with that, mr. speaker, i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlewoman from arizona is recognized. mrs. kirkpatrick: i reserve. the speaker pro tempore: does the gentlewoman have any -- mr. kirk: i have no further speakers. the speaker pro tempore: thank you. the gentleman from colorado. mr. lamborn: we have no further speakers either. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlewoman from -- does the gentleman from -- or or excuse me, from arizona yield back? mrs. kirkpatrick: i hope my colleagues support this and work with our partners in the executive branch to improve the delivery of facilities for our veterans. i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from colorado. mr. lamborn: thank you, mr. speaker. i too thank the gentlelady once again from arizona for her bipartisan support of this good
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piece of legislation and urge all of my colleagues in the u.s. house to support it, support h.r. 3593, as amended, and i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the question is, will the house suspend the rules and pass the bill, h.r. 3593, as amended. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, 2/3 of those voting having responded in the affirmative, the rules are suspended, the bill is passed and, without objection, the motion to reconsider is laid on the table. for what purpose does the gentleman from colorado seek recognition? mr. lamborn: i move to suspend the rules and pass h.r. 4276 as amended, the veterans traumatic brain injury care improvement act of 2014. the speaker pro tempore: the clerk will report the title of the bill. the clerk: h.r. 4276, a bill to extend and modify a pilot program on assisted living services for veterans with traumatic brain injury. the speaker pro tempore: pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from colorado, mr. lamborn, and the gentlewoman from arizona, mrs. kirkpatrick,
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each control 20 minutes. the gentleman from colorado. mr. lamborn: mr. speaker, i ask unanimous consent that all members have five legislative days in which to revise and extend their remarks to h.r. 4276 as amended. the speaker pro tempore: without objection. mr. lamborn: mr. speaker, i yield myself as much time as i may consume. mr. speaker, h.r. 4276 as amended would require the department of veterans affairs, beginning in january, to provide reports to congress on the pilot program for assisted living services for veterans with traumatic brain injury. with passage of the veterans access, choice and accountability act earlier this year, we were able to ex -- excuse me, extend this important program for another three years. as of june 1 of this year, 187 veterans from 46 different facilities in 22 states have been enrolled for services. these are severely injured veterans who still want to live with independents within their communities. for that reason this bill also
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amends the definition of, quote, assisted living, unquote, to encompass community brain injury care. too often pilot programs are initiated and 'a-- and abandoned by the v.a. with little reporting or data analysis. that is why this bill is important. it would require the secretary to provide quarterly reports to congress on utilization, status and veterans' satchings, as well as interim assessments as to the success of the program and recommendations for improvement. it would also require a final report as to how v.a. would expect to continue or integrate this pilot into other services that are vital for enhancing the quality of life for those veterans suffering from what's been called one of the signature wounds of recent conflicts, traumatic brain injury, t.b.i. i'm grateful to representative bill cassidy, my friend and colleague from louisiana, for his leadership in introducing this legislation, and i'm proud
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to join him in supporting it. mr. speaker, i urge all of my colleagues to join me in supporting this important piece of legislation and i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlewoman from arizona is recognized. mrs. kirkpatrick: thank you, mr. speaker. i yield myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: without objection, the gentlewoman is yielded as much time as she may consume. mrs. kirkpatrick: thank you. traumatic brain injury has become a signature wound of the iraq and afghanistan wars. these conflicts have caused hundreds of thousands of service members to sustain t.b.i.'s. the veterans access, care and accountability act extended the pilot program on assisted living services for veterans with t.b.i. until october, 2017. this pilot has helped nearly 200 veterans with moderate to severe brain injuries and this program fills a treatment need which residential v.a. facilities currently cannot
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handle. h.r. 4276 will improve the reporting requirements for the t.b.i. assisted living pilot program so that we can better gauge its success and expand the definition of community-based residential rehabilitative services so that veterans with t.b.i. have other residential and home-based assisted living options. congress has provided significant resources for this program. currently approaching $30 million per year. reports show that veterans believe this is a successful and popular program. but we in congress must provide vital oversight so that innovative pilot programs meet our veterans' needs. this is why we need better data on the cost and benefits of this program to veterans.
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this bill will require the v.a. to submit detailed quarterly reports on this pilot program. i believe that these increased reporting requirements will ensure that the v.a.'s providing the best rehabilitative services for our veterans with t.b.i. earlier this year i held a field hearing on access to care for veterans with t.b.i. at the v.a. medical center in tucson, arizona. the tucson v.a.'s polytrauma care unit is one of several v.a. medical centers across the country that is at the very forefront of providing care and rehabilitative services for veterans with t.b.i. i believe the v.a.'s cutting-edge treatments and its coordinated care for veterans with t.b.i. serve as a model for innovative care that could be expanded to other medical
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specialties so that the v.a. may better address the unique health care needs of our veterans. in the coming months, we must look to fundamentally reform the v.a. and how it provides benefits and services to veterans. we must look to some of the v.a.'s health care delivery programs that show promise, such as the assisted living pilot program to implement best practices throughout the v.a. system that will give our veterans the timely, world-class health care they deserve. i look forward to engaging my colleagues and veterans in this goal. i urge my colleagues to support h.r. 4276, and i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from colorado is recognized. mr. lamborn: mr. speaker, i would now like to recognize the sponsor of the bill, my friend and colleague, representative bill cassidy of louisiana. for two minutes. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from louisiana is recognized for two minutes. mr. cassidy: thank you, mr.
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lamborn. mr. speaker, over 19% of returning veterans suffer from some form of traumatic brain injury. that's why in march i introduced h.r. 4276, which would extend a v.a. pilot program to care for those suffering from traumatic brain injury or t.b.i. and was pleased when a portion of this bill was included in the veterans access to care act of 2014. in addition to extending the program for a longer length of time, my bill also created metrics for determining the success of the program. i'm pleased the house will now vote on the amended portion of my bill, which creates a more thorough, frequent reporting requirement and expands the definition of assisted living to encompass broader definitions of care. the expanded reporting requirements allow for, again, a more thorough determination of how successful this program is in rehabilitating patients suffering from t.b.i. i'm a doc. i know unless you measure
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something, it will not change. if we measure and find it does well, hopefully we expand. if not, we improve. we'll also measure the satisfaction that the veteran and their family members have with the program. by expanding the definition of assisted living, the bill also allows for more partnerships to take place with non-v.a. facilities so that veterans can receive the kind of care that serve their unique needs. it is our duty as members of congress to care for our veterans and ensure they receive the best care available . i thank chairman miller for working with me on this legislation. i appreciate the opportunity to have it considered and i urge all my colleagues to support it. thank you and i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: thank you. the gentlewoman from arizona is recognized. mrs. kirkpatrick: i'd like to yield three minutes to the gentlewoman from florida, ms. brown. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlewoman from florida voids for three minutes. ms. brown: thank you. and thank you, ranking member. and this is certainly a bill that i can support.
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h.r. 4276 would improve the reporting requirements for the t.b.i. assisted living pilot program so that we can better gauge its success, the expansion of the definition of a community-based residential rehabilitation services, so that veterans with t.b.i. have other residential and home-based assistant living. i think it's important for us to go back to what the first president of the united states said about any war that we participate in. the willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justifiable, shall be directly proportion ath as to how they per -- proportion at as to how they receive veterans of early wars are treated and appreciated by their country and we're not just talking about on veterans' day. we're talking about how we treat them, how we support them and i think this bill goes a
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long way to deal with some of the problems that they're experiencing returning from the last two wars. so this is certainly a bill that i can support and i want to say again, may god continue to bless america and i want to thank the veterans for their service. not just thanking them, but this is really putting your money where your -- your mouth where your money. is thank you. i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from colorado is recognized. mr. lamborn: mr. speaker, we have no further speakers and am prepared to close and i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: thank you. the gentleman from arizona. mrs. kirkpatrick: mr. speaker, i have no further speakers. i urge my colleagues to support h.r. 4276, and i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from colorado. mr. lamborn: mr. speaker, i too encourage all members to support h.r. 4276 as amended and i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the question is, will the house suspend the rules and pass h.r. 4276 as amended. those in favor say aye.
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those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, 2/3 of those voting having responded in the affirmative, the rules are suspended, the bill is passed and, without objection, the motion to reconsider is laid on the table. for what purpose does the gentleman from colorado seek recognition? mr. speaker, i move to suspend the rules and pass senate bill 2258, the veterans' compensation cost of living d adjustment act of 2014. the speaker pro tempore: the clerk will report the title of the bill. the clerk: senate 2258, an act to provide for an increase effective december 1, 2014, in the rates of compensation for veterans and service -- with service-connected disabilities, and the rates of dependency and indemnity compensation, for the survivors of certain disabled veterans, and for other purposes. the speaker pro tempore: pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from colorado, mr. lamborn, and the gentlewoman from arizona, mrs. kirkpatrick, each will control 20 minutes. the chair recognizes the gentleman from colorado. mr. lamborn: thank you, mr. speaker. i ask unanimous consent that all members have five legislative days in which to revise and extend their remarks
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on senate bill 2258. the speaker pro tempore: without objection. mr. lamborn: i yield myself as much time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is yielded as much time as he may consume. mr. lamborn: thank you. as a senior member of the house committee on veterans' affairs, i rise today in favor of the veterans' compensation cost of living adjustment ability of 2014. mr. speaker, it is timely that we consider this legislation today, having just observed last week the 13th anniversary of the september 11 terrorist attacks on our homeland, the catalyst for our efforts to fight terrorism. . many of those who sacrificed so much in recent and past conflicts are in continued and increased need. this is critical legislation that authorizes a cost of living adjustment for disabled veterans receiving disability compensation from the department of veterans' affairs and other compensation for survivors of veterans who died as a result of their service to our country.
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the amount of increases will be determined by the consumer price index which determines the cost of living increases for social security as well. runyan like to thank mr. of new jersey for introducing h.r. 4095, a companion bill to this legislation. i urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this legislation and i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlewoman from arizona is recognized. mrs. kirkpatrick: i yield myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlewoman is yielded such time as she may consume. mrs. kirkpatrick: last week we passed the cost of -- veterans cost of living adjustment act of 2014 which provides that veterans receive a cost of living adjustment beginning in december. today the house can also act to ensure veterans continue to receive she support they
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deserve. this bill that we must pass every year in order to ensure that the benefits we pay our veterans do not lose purchasing power because of inflation. today we have the opportunity to pass this measure and send it to the president's desk. this bill directs the v.a. to increase the rates of veteran's disability compensation prorkvide additional compensation for disabled veterans with the -- with dependents, ensure certain disabled veterans receive a clothing allowance and increase dependency and indemocratnyity compensation for surviving pouses and children. these adjustments would be made effective december 31, 20 14rks and match the increase in social security benefits. senate bill 2258 will assist the estimated 4.5 million veterans
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and survivors who receive these benefits and often depend on these payments to make ends meet. for some, it is their only source of income. without this annual cola increase, veterans, their families and survivors would see the value of their hard-earned benefits slowly erode. providing for this cost of living increase is another important thing congress can do to help veterans and their families that have already sacrificed so much for us. i urge my colleagues to support senate bill 2258 and reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from colorado. mr. lamborn: we have no further speakers at this time and i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlewoman from arizona. mrs. kirkpatrick: i would like to yield three minutes to the gentlewoman from nevada, ms. titus. the speaker pro tempore: the
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gentlewoman is recognized for three minutes. ms. titus: thank you, and i thank the gentlewoman from arizona for yielding to me and her hard work on behalf of our veterans. as the ranking member of the disability assistance and memorial affairs subcommittee, i rise in support of s. 2258, the veterans compensation cost of living adjustment act. unlike social security cola increases, congress must act each year to provide veterans with the cola increase they earned and deserve. i was proud to introduce the corresponding legislation in the house with our subcommittee chairman jon runyan. together we also introduced legislation to make this yearly adjustment automatic. so today, the house will pass a number of bills that are designed to meet the bipartisan goal of ensuring our nation's heros receive all the benefits they have earned. but there is an important bill that has been blocked from consideration in the house. that bill is h.r. 2529 the
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veterans' spouses equal treatment act, which would provide all married veterans and their families access to federal benefits they deserve. last week in the house veterans affairs committee, only one republican had the courage to vote to provide access to v.a. benefits to legally married same-sex couples regardless of where they live. cup whols receive the benefits while they were in the military but lost them -- couples who received the benefits while they were in the military but lost them on becoming veterans if they lived in certain states. we heard all kinds of excuses. we heard it was unconstitutional for congress to force states to adopt federal directive. that is ridiculous and intellectually dishonest. this house voted to mandate that state pross side in-state ition for veteran, a measure
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authored by the very member who made the specious argument against that bill. and we heard process arguments as an excuse for not going the right thing. i would remind my colleagues they are the ones who make the process. when we vote today to adjoust -- adjust the cola, remember that this increase is meaningless to thousands of our nation's heroes in states like texas, florida, and north carolina. they will not be receiving the benefits they earned and deserved. it's shameful and it's unfair. so mr. speaker, while i urge my colleagues to support 2258, i would remind them of these facts and implore the republican leadership to do the right thing and bring h.r. 2529 to the floor for a vote so all veterans will get the benefits they earned and deserve. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from colorado. mr. lamborn: i reserve. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlewoman from arizona is recognized.
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mrs. kirkpatrick: i reserve. the speaker pro tempore: all time having expired -- the gentlewoman from arizona. mrs. kirkpatrick: i urge my colleagues to support h.r. 2258 and send this important bill to the president today. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from colorado. mr. lamborn: i too urge all members to support senate 2258 and yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the question is, will the house suspend the rules and pass senate 2258. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, 2/3 being in the affirmative, the rules are suspended, the bill is passed and without objection the motion to reconsider is laid on the table.
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for what purpose does the gentleman from north carolina seek recognition? >> mr. speaker, i move that the house suspend the rules and pass h.r. 24 as amended. the speaker pro tempore: the clerk will report the title of the bill. the clerk: h.r. 24 a bill to require a full audit of the board of governors of the federal reserve system and the federal reserve banks by the comptroller general of the united states and for other purposes. the speaker pro tempore: pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from north carolina, mr. meadows, and the gentleman from maryland, mr. cummings, each will control 20 minutes. the chair recognizes the gentleman from north carolina. mr. meadows: thank you, mr. speaker. i yield myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: without objection. mr. meadows: thank you, mr. speaker. i ask unanimous consent that all members may have five
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legislative days in which to revise and extend their remarks and include ex-ing trains you materials on the bill under consideration. the speaker pro tempore: without objection. mr. meadows: thank you, mr. speaker. h.r. 24, the federal reserve transparency act, directs the g.a.o. to conduct a full audit of the federal reserve. the dodd-frank legislation mandated a g.a.o. audit of the fed but that audit issued by the g.a.o. in july of 2011 focused solely on certain issues concerning emergency credit facilities. g.a.o. remains restricted under the current law for conducting a broader audit of the fed that includes, for instance, a review of the fed's monetary policy operations and its agreement with foreign governments and central banks. under this bill, the g.a.o. as the investigative arm of congress is allowed to conduct the audit that reviews all these transactions and is required to
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report such findings of the audit to congress. now while congress should not manage the details of monetary policy, it needs to be able to conduct oversight of the fed. the fed was created by congress to be a central bank independent of influence of the u.s. treasury. it was never intended to be a second treasury department. in recent year the fed's extraordinary intervention into the economy and financial markets have led some to call into question its independence. the fed remains ultimately responsible to the american people and their elected representatives. this is why h.r. 24 has strong bipartisan support. with 228 co-sponsors on both sides of the aisle. a version of this bill passed the house of representatives last congress by a vote of 327-98. i want to thank chairman hensarling for working with me
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to bring this legislation to the floor. i will insert our letters of exchange in the congressional record. i encourage and urge my colleagues to support this legislation and mr. speaker, i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the wrelt from maryland. mr. cummings: i yield myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is regular -- the gentleman is recognized. mr. cummings: let me be clear, i support transparency surrounding the operations of the federal reserve. transparency helps ensure the federal reserve is implementing policies that will achieve the obbletives given to it by congress. -- objectives given to it by congress. supporting maximum employment, price stability and moderate long-term interest rates. i emphasize, however, that the federal has been subject to audit since 1978. further, dodd-frank wall street reform and consume brother text
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act, which i supported, significantly extended the authority of the government accountability office to examine the federal reserve's operations. it also required the federal reserve to make public a wider range of data than it had previously disclosed. for example, dodd-frank authorized g.a.o. to begin auditing discount window operations that required the federal reserve to begin releasing information about emergency credit transactions and discount lending programs. critically, however, dodd-frank ensures that transparency surrounding the fed's operations was expanded in a way that would not compromise the fed's ability monetary nd alter policy without fear its internal deliberations would be made public. if enacted this bill would severely curtail the independence that's been a hallmark of the federal reserve.
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and has been essential to its ability to strengthen our country. specifically h.r. 24 would permit g.a.o. to audit the communications that members of the federal reserve's board of governors had with each other and with staff regarding monetary policy. that would also permit g.a.o. to audit transactions conducted under the direction of the federal open market committee. it could be -- such audits which could be conducted on an almost real-time basis on this -- under this bill could have a chilling effect on the fed. if they know their statements can become public, they may be inhibited from speaking about trends or monetary policies they believe would best respond to current conditions. further, simply by requesting that the g.a.o. conduct certain audits, members could seek to influence deliberations and policy decisions. the federal reserve is
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developing or monetary policies to support our nation's long-term growth. we should expand transparency around the federal reserve in a way that will ensure short-term political considerations do not unduly influence their monetary policymaking responsibilities. the oversight committee has not held a single hearing or heard a single witness regarding the far-reaching consequences that passage of this legislation could have. i oppose this legislation and i urge members to vote against it and i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from north carolina. >> i yield such time as he may consume to my distinguished colleague from the state of georgia a man who has worked hard on this particular issue, the gentleman from georgia, mr. broun. the speaker pro tempore: without bjection, the gentleman is
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mr. broun: in the united states constitution, article 1, section 8, where it anew mexico rates the powers of congress, one of those powers is to coin money, regulate the value thereof and a foreign coin. in 1913, congress abdicated its responsibility and its duty over to the federal reserve and it's unconstitutional we have done so and has caused some disastrous effects. i thank mr. meadows for yielding bill e to speak on this known as audit the fed. this passed this in 2012. this is a vital piece of legislation that will help to usher in a new of transparency in this nation's monetary policy d

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