Mark Introduces Bipartisan Legislation: The Restore Veterans' Compensation Act

October 16, 2017
DeSaulnier Digest

Dear Contra Costa Residents:

As part of our continued effort to keep Contra Costa residents in the know, below is an update of what took place in Washington, DC over the last week.


RECENT KEY VOTES

Dr. Chris Kirkpatrick Whistleblower Protection Act (S. 585)

Dr. Chris Kirkpatrick was a clinical psychologist at the VA who raised his concerns about the over-medication of some VA patients. Worse than his complaints falling on deaf ears, they were used to reprimand him and ultimately led to his firing. On the same day he was fired, Dr. Kirkpatrick took his own life. This bill would protect whistleblowers from retaliation by their supervisors. Although the bill was not perfect, it emphasizes the importance of investigating whistleblower claims and respecting employees and for those reasons, I supported this effort.

Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Requirements Act (House Amendment to Senate Amendment to H.R. 2266)

The United States has recently been ravaged by natural disasters and our mitigation, recovery, and rebuilding efforts are in need of funding. This bill provides $12.77 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Disaster Relief Fund (DRF) for public and individual response and recovery needs; $16 billion for cancellation of existing debt of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), allowing for continued payment of claims to flooding victims; and $576.5 million to fund wildland fire suppression and replenish accounts that had been tapped for transfers to fund firefighting. I was proud to support this much-needed legislation to help our country fight wildfires and rebuild from the hurricanes. Moving forward, I will continue to look for opportunties to assist the Bay Area in recovering from the devasting wildfires.


MARK'S LEGISLATIVE ACCOMPLISHMENTS

Last week I introduced the bipartisan Restore Veterans' Compensation Act of 2017 (H.R. 4016) that would prevent the federal government from recouping separation pay from veterans who later qualify for VA disability benefits. Many service members qualify for separation pay when they depart the military--it’s a form of compensation for those with more than six years of service who meet reenlistment requirements but are not allowed to reenlist. Unfortunately, under current law, nearly 25,000 veterans have been required to pay back separation pay if they later become eligible for VA disability benefits or retirement pay, resulting in more than $400 million dollars being withheld from our veterans. This legislation would no longer allow for the recoupment of separation pay and it would make changes to the Department of Defense’s recoupment policies to make them fairer to veterans.


MARK AROUND TOWN

I met with Marianne Karth and Lois Durso, two loving and dedicated moms who lost their daughters in truck underride accidents. The moms have been tirelessly working to raise awareness about gaps in truck safety, and Mark along with his colleagues, Representative Steve Cohen and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand are working on an initiative that would help prevent future underride tragedies and improve highway safety.


OPINIONS FROM THE DISTRICT​

Hearing directly from you not only informs my work in Congress, but also is my favorite part of being your Representative. To share your opinions with me you can either email me or take our survey.

Below are some of the top issues you shared with me over the past two weeks:

- 166 constituents expressed their opposition to President Trump’s tax reform framework, which would provide massive tax cuts for the wealthy while raising taxes for the working class.

- 106 constituents called for the passage of legislation that would fully fund the Child Health Insurance Program, which 24 percent of children in Contra Costa Country depend on for their health coverage. Republican leadership has been unwilling to bring this legsilation to the floor.

- 84 constituents shared with us their serious concerns about the gun violence epidemic in America following the shooting in Las Vegas, and requested that commonsense legislation be brought up for a vote to protect American lives.


LEGISLATION MARK RECENTLY SUPPORTED

Gun Violence Research Act (H.R. 1478)

Having accurate data about any issue is crucial to developing policies that can be effective. Unfortunately, there is a longstanding provision in federal law that bars federal public health agencies from sponsoring evidence-based research into the causes of gun incidents and ways to reduce gun deaths and injuries. This bill would repeal this provision and allow research that could lower gun violence and protect the constitutional rights of law-abiding gun owners.

No First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act (H.R. 669)

The power to declare war constitutionally belongs to Congress in order to ensure deliberate and rational conversations before making such an important decision. This bill would prohibit the President from conducting a first-use nuclear strike without a Congressional Declaration of War, which is particularly important with our current President who has proven himself to be unpredictable.

Keep Americans Safe Act (H.R. 4052)

I am proud to support this bill, which bans the future sale of large capacity ammunition. These devices have been used in many mass shootings and were banned between 1994 and 2004. Since that ban has lapsed, they have been responsible for hundreds of deaths.


LETTERS MARK RECENTLY SENT

Letter to Administration opposing the rollback of contraception coverage

Last week, the President took the action to unroll parts of the Affordable Care Act that promote women’s health and decrease unwanted pregnancies. In undermining the requirement to provide free contraceptive care, the Administration has taken money out of the pockets of women and used it to pad business profits.

Letter to Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on California Values Act

Acting-Director Homan threatened “at-large arrests” in California after the passage of the California Values Act (SB 54). I sent a letter with many of my California colleagues condemning this act of intimidation and standing in solidarity with California families.


MARK’S RECENT STATEMENTS

Congressman DeSaulnier Reacts to President Trump’s Decertification of the Iran Nuclear Agreement  

“The 2015 nuclear deal between Iran, the United States, and other world leaders was made to slow down Iran’s nuclear capabilities, and we have strong evidence it is working with international inspectors certifying compliance on eight separate occasions since enactment. Prior to the agreement, Iran could build a nuclear weapon in about a month, but it would now take them almost a year. Failing to recertify the deal makes Iran a bigger threat to the region and the world. President Trump is telling our allies we are not a reliable partner, and destroying the credibility of the United States around the globe. This is even more troubling as we face heightened concerns in North Korea that call for trustworthy and delicate diplomacy.” To read the full release, click here.  

Congressman DeSaulnier’s Statement on President Trump’s Actions to Sabotage Health Care​

“This is yet another attack by President Trump to undermine the success and stability of the ACA. This irresponsible decision will make it easier for insurance companies to discriminate against Americans with pre-existing conditions and take advantage of those most in need of affordable, comprehensive health coverage. It is appalling that this Administration, despite public opposition, is prioritizing reckless campaign promises over working on behalf of the American people to improve our health care system.”  To read the full release, click here.


MARK IN THE NEWS

WUSA9: Lawmaker first to publicly back truck underride bill written by grieving moms

For the first time, congressional lawmakers have publicly pledged support for truck underride safety reform. “We should have been doing this a long time ago,” said Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA). DeSaulnier said it’s time to pass sweeping semi-truck underride legislation that requires stronger rear guards on tractor trailers, and for the first time side guards on semi-trucks as well.

To view my entire interview with WUSA9 click the image below.