Today, Rep. Mike Bost (R-Ill.), the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, delivered the following opening statement, as prepared, at the start of the Committee’s markup of eight veterans’ bills:
We are here this afternoon to consider eight bills that would impact the delivery of care and education, home loans, and compensation benefits to veterans.
Three of these bills are sponsored by Republican Members of this Committee – General Bergman and Dr. Murphy.
I thank them for their leadership and look forward to supporting their bills this afternoon.
That said, Mr. Chairman, I will regretfully be unable to support some of the other bills on today’s agenda.
Two weeks ago, the Subcommittee on Health held a legislative hearing that included the 3 Republican proposals we will vote on today, and 9 bills sponsored by Democrats.
It is surprising and disappointing that none of those Democrat bills – many of which are bipartisan – are on today’s markup agenda.
Many of the bills that are on today’s markup agenda have not had any regular order in the 117th Congress.
That means that we do not have views or cost estimates on them.
We do not know how the Administration, V.S.O.s, or stakeholders view those bills.
We do not know how many additional taxpayer dollars would be required to implement them.
We do not know how those bills would impact the access to care for veterans under existing law.
If this is sounding eerily similar to last month’s markup on the Chairman’s toxic exposure bill, that is because it is.
I know that we both care deeply about fulfilling our commitment to veterans, Mr. Chairman.
I am more than willing to work with you to advance good, bipartisan proposals to benefit veterans and their families.
But the first time Members are given an opportunity to consider a piece of legislation should not be when they are voting on it.
My staff and I learned just two days ago – for the first time – which bills would be on today’s agenda.
Since then, we have tried behind the scenes – where possible – to work through our concerns and get the information we need to feel comfortable supporting some of the bills before us.
But, I sincerely hope this will be the last markup containing bills with so little on-the-record substance backing them up.
I sincerely hope this will be the last markup where Members are asked to trust good intentions without the information Members need to have confidence in their vote.
That is no way of doing the people’s business.
We can do better than the bare minimum.
We must do better for the veterans we are here to serve.
I yield back.
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