VFW Washington Weekly - 3 April 06

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    VFW Washington Weekly,
    April 3, 2006

    In This Issue:
    1. House Budget Committee Actions
    2. Military Funeral Legislation Introduced
    3. Veterans’ Champion Evans to Retire
    4. Hearing Held on Cemetery Funding

    1. House Budget Committee Actions
    The House Budget Committee rejected the administration’s plan to charge Category 7 and 8 veterans a $250 enrollment fee and to raise prescription co-payments from $8 to $15, but the committee left alive a proposal to increase healthcare premiums for some military retirees under age 65.

    On a 22-15 party-line vote, the committee rejected an amendment by Rep. Chet Edwards, D-TX, which would have blocked Pentagon plans to double and triple Tricare premiums for working-age military retirees. There is still time to join the VFW’s fight against the Tricare increases by sending a message to your Congressional representative today.

    Click here to send a message: http://capwiz.com/vfw/issues/alert/?alertid=8585061&type=CO

    The bill now moves to the floor of the House. The budget resolution is just a blueprint for spending in the fiscal year. The Appropriations Committees have the final say of how the money is actually spent.

    2. Military Funeral Legislation Introduced
    VFW-supported Legislation that would severely restrict protests during
    Military funerals at national cemeteries was introduced last week by Representative Mike Rogers (R-MI).

    HR 5037, The Respect for America’s Fallen Heroes Act would ban all
    demonstrations one hour before, during, and after a military funeral at a national cemetery. It would impose a 500-foot separation restriction, and would allow for fines and/or jail time for violations. It also encourages the states to enact similar bans for public and private cemeteries, as well for funeral home services.

    We ask all VFW members and veterans’ advocates to contact their legislators and urge them to sign on as a co-sponsor of HR 5037 and to fully support its enactment into law.

    For the VFW Press Release go to:
    http://www.vfw.org/index.cfm?fa=news.newsDtl&did=3058

    3. Veterans’ Champion Evans to Retire
    Senior Democrat on the House Veterans Affairs’ Committee, Lane Evans (D-IL) announced his retirement last week due to health reasons. Evans suffers from Parkinson’s disease but plans to finish out the rest of his current term in the 109th Congress.

    VFW Commander-in-Chief James R. Mueller lauded the Congressman for his many tireless years as a strong advocate for veterans. “For 24 years in Washington, Congressman Evans never failed to put the best interests of veterans and those who continue to serve ahead of partisan politics,” said Mueller.

    Evans is also credited with being at the forefront of Agent Orange compensation, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Gulf War syndrome research, and the nation’s commitment to account for the 88,000 Americans who remain missing in action.

    For more see the VFW Press Release at:
    http://www.vfw.org/index.cfm?fa=news.newsDtl&did=3034

    4. Hearing Held on Cemetery Funding
    House Veterans Affairs’ Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs held a hearing on operational issues and FY 2007 funding for Arlington National Cemetery and the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC).

    Arlington National Cemetery is operated by the Department of the Army and ABMC is an independent agency of the executive branch that operates and maintains American military cemeteries overseas, as well as numerous federal monuments, memorials, and markers. The Veterans’ Affairs Committee has oversight responsibility for both.

    The hearing was the second part of the subcommittees’ oversight on Veterans Affairs’ National Cemetery Administration and State Cemetery programs.

    For more on the hearing go the Committee’s website at:
    http://veterans.house.gov/hearings/index.html

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