Last week, I wrote about the Senate passing the Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act. On Thursday, the President signed this important piece of legislation into law. This new law will give the Veterans' Health Administration the ability to plan its budget one year ahead of the regular federal funding process. For a budget that has been delayed 18 times in 22 years, this is great news. I am proud to have co-sponsored this legislation and applaud the President for signing it into law. Our nation's veterans deserve quality health care in a timely fashion, and this law will finally help them receive the care they earned.
On Wednesday, I attended a Veterans' Affairs Committee hearing that focused on 22 pieces of legislation affecting veterans health and benefits. In particular, the Committee heard from VA about my legislation, the Caring for Camp Lejeune Veterans Act of 2009. While scientific studies are ongoing, my legislation would allow veterans and their family members who were stationed at Camp Lejeune while the water was contaminated to get medical care from the VA. These veterans and their families deserve closure on this tragic situation, and I am hopeful this legislation will be approved by the Committee.
In an attempt to identify former Camp Lejeune residents who may have been affected, the Navy and Marine Corps have already established a registry that includes the names and contact information of 140,000 people. Currently, VA does not have access to this vital information. At Wednesday's hearing, I pledged to do all I can to faciliate the sharing of this information between the Navy, the Marine Corps and VA. This way, federal agencies can begin working together to help these veterans get the care they need much more quickly.
Yesterday, the Lumbee Recognition Act, a bill I sponsored along with Senator Hagan, passed the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. This is a step in the right direction for the Lumbee Tribe to receive the federal recognition they deserve. I hope that the Senate will pass this important piece of legislation soon and fulfill its commitment to achieve justice for the Lumbees.
Also this week, I had the chance to greet over 100 World War II veterans from North Carolina who traveled to Washington D.C. to visit the World War II Memorial on the National Mall. Representative Kissell, Representative McHenry, and almost 200 Patriot Guard Motorcyclists joined me in welcoming these heroes. I was truly honored to be invited to this celebration and grateful for a chance to hear the courageous stories of these American heroes.