From the Office of Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi

Pelosi: More Needs to be Done for America’s Veterans

October 8, 2003

Washington, D.C. -- House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi today praised passage of the Injured Soldiers Hospital Bill (H.R. 2998) and the Veteran’s Benefits Act of 2003 (H.R. 2297), and called on the Bush Administration and Republicans in Congress to do more for our Veterans.

The Injured Soldiers Hospital Bill will correct the egregious practice of requiring soldiers injured in Iraq and Afghanistan to pay for food while in military hospitals. The Veteran’s Benefits Act of 2003 will provide some additional benefits for veterans. Though these bills provide needed benefits for veterans, they do not address the most pressing problems faced by veterans - an unfair disabled veterans’ tax and the veteran’s health care crisis.

"It is about time we passed these bills. It is appalling that it has taken the Republican leadership so long to realize that handing a bill to hospitalized soldiers for their food is wrong," Pelosi said. "The Republican leadership in Congress and the Bush Administration’s actions must meet their rhetoric on veteran issues. They must stop blocking bipartisan efforts to end the disabled veterans tax."

Currently, disabled veterans are prevented from receiving retirement and disability benefits. A bill ending this disabled veterans tax is supported by a majority of Congress, but Republican leaders have refused to bring it to a vote. House Democrats have organized a discharge petition, a procedure that will force a vote on the bill but Republican Leaders have blocked House Republicans from signing it. Of the 218 signatures needed to bring this issue to an immediate vote, only 2 are Republican.

"These disabled veterans are men and women who are willing to put their lives on the line for us," Pelosi said. "Democrats will not sit idly by while the programs that benefit our veterans are dismantled. We must eliminate the disabled veterans tax and mandate full funding for the Veteran’s Administration’s health care programs. Democrats will fight to ensure that America fulfills its moral obligations to those who have paid the high price for our freedom -- those who have worn our nation’s uniform."

House Democrats are working to improve the quality of life of veterans and their families. Democrats have introduced a comprehensive veterans package, which repeals the disabled veterans tax, allowing veterans to receive both the disability pay and the retirement pay they have earned and deserve. Democrats are also working to reduce the national disgrace that leaves 200,000 veterans waiting up to six months for an appointment at Veterans Affairs hospitals. Democrats are working to restore the $1.8 billion that Republicans are trying to cut from Veterans health care. And Democrats have taken action to block the Bush Administration’s proposed increase in prescription drug co-payments for veterans and unfair enrollment fees.




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