Rep. Mike Levin’s Bipartisan Bills Pass Out of House Veterans’ Affairs Committee

July 30, 2020
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Today, the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs passed the Navy Seal Chief Petty Officer William 'Bill' Mulder (Ret.) Veterans Economic Recovery Act of 2020 and the Brian Tally VA Employment Transparency Act, two bipartisan bills that U.S. Representative Mike Levin (D-CA) introduced to support America’s veterans.

 

Rep. Levin introduced the Veterans Economic Recovery Act with Rep. Phil Roe, M.D. (R-TN), the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, to create a rapid retraining program for unemployed veterans and reservists. The bill was also introduced in the Senate by Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS), the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, and Senator Jon Tester (D-MT), the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Rep. Levin introduced the Brian Tally VA Employment Transparency Act with former Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) to support veterans with legal claims against the Department of Veterans Affairs or its contractors.

“As we continue to confront the devastating impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, we must do more to support our nation’s heroes,” said Rep. Levin. “I’m proud that two of my bipartisan bills to support America’s veterans have passed unanimously through the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. The Veterans Economic Recovery Act would help unemployed veterans get back to work, and the VA Employment Transparency Act will ensure that veterans can seek recourse if they are harmed as a result of substandard medical treatment by the VA or its contractors. I look forward to voting on these bills in the House and sending them to the President’s desk.”

Background on the Veterans Economic Recovery Act:

In 2019, the veteran unemployment rate was 3.1%, the lowest in 19 years. However, following the COVID-19 pandemic, the veteran unemployment rose to nearly 12% in April 2020. The unemployment rate for post-9/11 veteran women reached 20% in April 2020, compared to 15.5% for non-veteran women. The centerpiece of the Veterans Economic Recovery Act of 2020 would be the creation of a rapid retraining program to provide unemployed veterans and reservists with 12 months of educational benefits, to pursue training in high-demand occupations. The education benefits available under the rapid retraining program would be equivalent to the benefits provided under the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

The bill would also incorporate H.R. 5766, which was introduced by House Republican Leader McCarthy, to make needed improvements to the VET TEC pilot program and of H.R. 2326, which was introduced by Rep. Levin, to help servicemembers transition to civilian life. 

Background on the Brian Tally VA Employment Transparency Act:

In January 2016, Marine Veteran Brian Tally began experiencing debilitating back pain, and sought care at the Loma Linda VA. The doctor diagnosed him with a lower back sprain, denied a blood test or MRI, and prescribed painkillers. In March 2016, his family paid for an MRI outside of VA, which revealed he had been given a near fatal misdiagnosis. Instead of a lower back sprain, Tally had structural damage to his back, and his ensuing surgery revealed a bone-eating staph infection that was destroying his spine. Tally filed a claim with VA for medical malpractice and gross neglect. After nearly a year, he was told that the doctor was not a VA employee, but an independent contractor, so he would need to file in state court. At that point the statute of limitations had passed, leaving Tally and his family without any options for recourse over the suffering he experienced. The bipartisan Brian Tally VA Employment Transparency Act would help prevent that from happening to any other veterans.

The Brian Tally VA Transparency Act requires the VA, within 30 days of a veteran submitting a claim, to provide notice of the importance of securing legal counsel; the employment status of any individual involved in the claim; and the statute of limitations in the relevant state if the claim involves a contractor. 

###