May 29, 2019

NBC News: San Diego Rep. Mike Levin Strikes Bipartisanship on 3 Veteran Support Bills

U.S. Rep. Mike Levin, D-California, was in his North County district on Tuesday touting a trio of bills to benefit veterans that have been passed in the House.

The Democratic congressman touts all of these bills as bipartisan; each was introduced alongside one of his Republican colleagues.

"You know, Mitch McConnell has said he's the Grim Reaper and has called the Senate where Democratic bills go to die," Levin said. "These aren't Democratic bills. These are truly bipartisan bills and it's not like we have to craft a plan."

NBC 7 asked the congressman about the tense climate in Washington.

"It's not as bad as the cable news networks lead you to believe it is,” he said. "We're trying to get things done behind closed doors and in committees. We have a job to do and we have to walk and chew gum at the same time."

The first bill, the Vet Center Eligibility Expansion Act, will expand who is eligible to receive counseling from Veterans Affairs centers.

If passed, members of the U.S. National Guard, the U.S. Army Reserve and the U.S. Coast Guard who served during national emergency situations, major disasters, civil disorder, or drug interdiction operations would receive the benefits.

The second bill is the Transition Improvement Act, which improves the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) for servicemembers returning to civilian life. 

The bill would create a training program meant to ease the process for veterans and spouses to get acclimated to civilian life. It would also create a grant for organizations to assist veterans in the process. 

The Veterans' Education, Transition, and Opportunity Prioritization Plan Act was the third bill to pass the house. It would reorganize the VA to put transition, education and employment programs under a new administration to better staff and resource those programs. 

Rep. Levin says he hopes to have a veterans package of bills passed by the Senate between the Fall and Winter of 2019.

Source: Alex Presha