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Key bill for veterans clears House floor

Robert Houk • May 19, 2018 at 12:03 AM

U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, R-Johnson City, told reporters Friday he had one of the most “rewarding” weeks of his career on Capitol Hill with House passage of what he called key legislation for veterans.

The 1st District congressman said the Department of Veterans Affairs Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Systems Act will substantially improve care of the 8 million men and women who receive medical care through the VA system.

The bill was passed Wednesday by a 347-70 vote.

“I’m very excited,” Roe said by phone from his office in Washington, D.C. “This is one of the biggest pieces of VA legislation we’ve passed in many years.”

More Services For Vets

Roe, who serves as chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, said the VA MISSION Act is a bipartisan effort to give veterans “timely access” to VA care. He said the legislation would streamline the VA’s community care programs into one program, create a nonpartisan process for reviewing all of the VA’s assets and expand a post-911 caregiver program to veterans of all eras.

He said the program provides a stipend to spouses and family members who serve as full-time caregivers to disabled veterans.

Level of Care

The VA MISSION Act also includes $5.2 billion to help fund the current Choice Act, which interim VA Secretary Robert Wilkie has told Congress could be out of money by the end of this month.

Roe told reporters it was important for the VA to do an honest assessment of clinical care being provided to veterans by the private sector.

“More than 36 percent of VA care is provided by the community,” he said.

In Other News

Roe said he was pleased to see the United States open its new embassy in Israel. He said while other presidents have talked about moving the embassy to Jerusalem, Trump has actually done it.

“He’s very serious about delivering on his campaign promises,” the congressman said.

Despite some recent setbacks, Roe said he is still confident Trump will meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

“I think it will happen,” he aid. “War is unthinkable on the Korean peninsula.”

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