Representative Levin Chairs First Hearing of House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity
Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representative Mike Levin (D-CA) chaired the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity’s first hearing of the 116th Congress, which considered a number of bipartisan bills that would improve and expand veterans’ economic services.
Representative Levin highlighted the Southern California veterans he represents, saying “my district, and Southern California as a whole, is ground zero for many of the national issues facing our veterans. That is why I am thankful for the trust my colleagues have placed in me to serve as chair.” He added, “there are over 46,000 veterans in the district I represent – veterans that depend on the services they earned in proud service to our country.”
Click here for video of Representative Levin’s full opening remarks and see below for a transcript:
Good morning. I call this legislative hearing to order.
Welcome to the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity’s first hearing of the 116th Congress. It’s exciting to be with you.
Before I touch on the legislative business before us today, I would like to take a moment to speak about the work our Subcommittee will be addressing this Congress.
I represent the 49th Congressional District of California. As many of you know, my district, and Southern California as a whole, is ground zero for many of the national issues facing our veterans. That is why I am thankful for the trust my colleagues have placed in me to serve as chair.
This Subcommittee plans to address issues like veterans’ homelessness; predatory educational institutions; and ensuring that our veterans successfully transition from the military to careers that take advantage of their unique and valuable skill sets.
That last point is of particular importance to me. We must be sure that our veterans aren’t just getting a piece of paper – but a real plan of transition to civilian life.
There are over 46,000 veterans in the district I represent – veterans that depend on the services they earned in proud service to our country.
Chair Takano has given our Committee a great goal with his VA 2030 vision, and it will be the duty of this Subcommittee to identify and carry out the objectives within our jurisdiction.
I plan to make this Subcommittee a bipartisan and collaborative body, and I encourage my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to share with me their thoughts and concerns.
That brings me to the work before us today. Today we are holding the first legislative hearing for the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs in the 116th Congress.
We will consider sixteen pieces of legislation – including a discussion draft of my legislation, the Navy SEAL Chief Petty Officer William ‘Bill’ Mulder Transition Improvement Act.
I look forward to introducing this bill with my colleague from Texas, Mr. Arrington, who was a friend of Mr. Mulder’s and represents his home district.
This bipartisan legislation will modernize how we assist servicemen and women as they transition to civilian life by placing a focus on what a career really means.
The bill will better allow the Department of Labor and the VA to track veteran employment, it will evaluate the effectiveness of the Transition Assistance Program, and it will set up a pilot program to create up to five new job training locations that will be independent from traditional military installations.
These new sites will test the viability of giving servicemen and women the ability to train for jobs in new settings that better reflect the challenges they may face in civilian life.
I also am pleased to serve as a cosponsor on six other pieces of legislation being considered today, including the VET OPP Act.
This legislation will elevate veterans’ education, job training, and transition assistance programs by creating a new Economic Opportunity and Transition Administration at the VA.
Two of today’s bills address the HUD-VASH program, which is crucial for housing veterans across the country, including those in San Diego – a city that ranks fourth nationwide in homeless residents.
The Homes for Our Heroes Act will require transparency in the allocation of HUD-VASH vouchers and case management services, as well as direct the VA to complete a study identifying best practices for the program in high cost areas.
And the Veteran HOUSE Act will expand voucher eligibility to veterans that were discharged under Other Than Honorable conditions or served less than 24 months.
Given that the issue of veteran homelessness is especially severe in Southern California, I’m pleased to collaborate with another Member from the San Diego delegation, my friend Mr. Peters, on both of these bills.
I’m proud of the work we are doing here today, and I am especially proud of the way we are doing it – in a bipartisan manner. In closing, I would like to thank our witnesses for appearing, and I look forward to your testimony.
With that I would like to recognize my friend, Ranking Member Bilirakis, for five minutes for any opening remarks that he may wish to make.