Jun 17, 2017 / Agriculture | Defense/Veterans | Disabilities

Updates on VA Accountability, Meeting with Sec Perdue, Health care, and ABLE Act

Dear Friend,

As you may have heard, this week while practicing for the annual bipartisan Congressional Baseball Game, Republican Members of Congress, staff, and Capitol Police were ambushed by an active shooter in Alexandria, Virginia. This horrendous attack sought to divide us, it sought to tear us down as Americans. I would ask that you continue to keep those injured in your thoughts and prayers.

The Congressional Baseball Game is a yearly bipartisan event. It’s a time for us, Republicans and Democrats, to get together, put politics aside, and raise money for charity while having a little fun. It was established in 1909, and with only a few interruptions, has taken place every year since. Despite the events of earlier in the week, the game went on, and we took some time to put politics aside and realize that even though we may sometimes disagree, we are all united under one flag, united as Americans. We are all here, Republicans and Democrats, to try and make this country better– to work for a better tomorrow.

For a while now, I’ve been doing what I can to bring people together around shared goals and common ground to talk about the issues that face our community. Since last fall, I’ve been meeting with people all across Eastern Washington to help have these courageous conversations about how we create a more unified community. I believe that although we all come from different backgrounds, cultures, races, and political ideologies, we are all united in our goal to make our community stronger, safer, and more prosperous for everyone.

Also, in February I authored an op-ed online for Time Motto. In it I said, “Division stifles progress and prevents good ideas — no matter their source — from being heard and considered. Reveling in our opponents’ missteps and losses drags us down as a country and diminishes our potential as people.” You can read the full piece here.

This election was a divisive one, and our country seems more divided than any time in recent history. I will continue my work to help bring our community together. In case you missed it, I encourage you to take a minute to watch Speaker Ryan’s remarks on the House floor on Wednesday following the attack. Specifically he says, “an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.”

VA ACCOUNTABILITY

The way a grateful nation shows it’s gratitude to those who have served is to ensure they get the care they need when the time comes. When a veteran contacts the VA, they should have the red carpet rolled out for them, but far too often, they are met with red tape, delays, and bureaucracy.

The VA has one job — to care for our veterans.

Unfortunately, in recent years they’ve become disconnected from that mission.

Every single day veterans contact my office with stories or needing help working through the bureaucracy at the VA. Some believe the issue is that the VA doesn’t have enough money to do its job. I disagree. The budget at the VA doubled under President George Bush and nearly doubled again under President Barack Obama (from roughly $60 billion to $182 billion in total).

I’m convinced this isn’t a money problem. The VA has a culture problem.

That’s why this week, the House moved forward on legislation to hold the VA accountable for their staff and the care they provide. It’s far too difficult for the VA to fire or demote employees — even those employees with poor performance or those who have participated in gross misconduct in the Department. The Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblowers Protection Act of 2017 will provide that accountability while still protecting employee’s due process rights. Following passage of this legislation in the People’s House, I joined for a press conference on Capitol Hill to send the bill to the President’s desk to become law. Watch my remarks here:

President Trump will soon sign this bill into law, a first and major step in our efforts to fix the culture at the VA. The work doesn’t stop here, though. I will continue this important work so that no veteran ever has to call my office in tears again because they can’t get an appointment, or let alone a returned call from the VA.

MEETING WITH SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE

Earlier this week, I met with the new Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to discuss many issues important to Eastern Washington. Our farmers help to feed and provide food security to the world. Secretary Perdue and I talked about the falling numbers test and its impacts this last year, as well as the importance of crop insurance.

We also touched on important forest reforms and the great work being done on the Colville National Forest as part of the A to Z Project. These types of public-private partnerships are one of the solutions to help ensure our forests are healthy and actively managed. It was great to get a chance to sit down with Secretary Perdue and talk about these issues that are important to Eastern Washington.

HEALTH CARE BILLS

When the House passed the American Health Care Act in April, we made clear it wasn’t the end of our work. As the Trump administration continues to make much-needed regulatory changes, the House this week passed three bills as part of our next phase of health care reform.

First, the House passed the Verify First Act, which builds off of the American Health Care Act and protects against fraud and abuse of taxpayer dollars. Specifically, this legislation requires the verification of a person’s eligibility before they can receive financial support to purchase insurance. Therefore, people who truly need these subsidies will be given access to them. The House also passed the VETERAN Act, which provides Veterans and people who are eligible to receive insurance through work or government programs the support and flexibility to purchase insurance on the individual insurance marketplace.

Finally, the House passed the Broader Options for American’s Act, which allows people who recently lost their job to continue using the insurance they received through work. This is made possible by providing access to the American Health Care Act’s monthly tax credits, and it is also available to people who have similar coverage provided through churches or other houses of worship.

We will continue working to pass these additional pieces of legislation to provide for stability in the health care market and ensure that we can truly provide every American with quality and affordable health care.

ABLE 2.0 TOUR

Earlier this week, I also stopped by the Capital Candy Jar in Washington, D.C. This business provides employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities here in the nation’s capital. We had a great discussion about the work they do, and about how we can provide more opportunities like this. After all, a job is more than just a paycheck: it gives you purpose and dignity. It’s the opportunity for a better life. That’s why my legislation, ABLE 2.0, specifically the ABLE to Work Act, is so important. Watch our tour of the facility here:

My legislation empowers people with disabilities to save the money they earn from work while remaining eligible for the critical disability safety net. At the end of the day, this is about empowering people with disabilities, like my son Cole, to live their fullest, independent life. You can learn more about my legislation here: https://mcmorris.house.gov/able/.

It’s a pleasure and honor to represent you and everyone in Eastern Washington. If you ever have questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to one of my offices. You can find all contact information here. And remember to follow along on Facebook and Twitter for realtime updates on what I’m working on for you.

Warmly,

Cathy