05.21.09

Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Meets to Vote on Pending Legislation

Veterans Second Amendment Protection and Military Spouses Residency Relief Acts pass Committee

Today, the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs met to vote on pending legislation affecting veterans' health care and benefits.

"I am pleased the Committee voted to send a bill directing advance appropriations for VA health care to the full Senate," Senator Burr said. "It is wrong to put the quality of care our nation's veterans receive at risk because VA doesn't know what its budget will be."

The Committee voted to send Senator Burr's Military Spouses Residency Relief Act to the full Senate. In recent decades, there has been a growing recognition that military spouses play a very important role in the success of our Armed Forces. But, even though they frequently move in support of servicemembers and the military, they are not provided with the same residency benefits afforded to servicemembers. Currently, servicemembers have the ability to claim and maintain one state of residence, regardless of where military orders may send them. The Military Spouses Residency Relief Act would extend similar rights to military spouses, easing some of the burden and headaches they now face.

The Committee voted favorably on two other provisions authored by Senator Burr. One would allow veterans with severe traumatic brain injury to qualify for the highest levels of so-called "aid and attendance" benefits - benefits provided to veterans who, as a result of service-connected disabilities, need the assistance of others in carrying out their daily activities. The other would end the delay in receiving disability checks that certain veterans who are medically retired from the military face after they separate.

In addition, the Committee approved the Caregiver and Veterans Health Services Act of 2009 to provide long overdue assistance to the family caregivers of seriously injured veterans. They also voted to approve Senator Burr's Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act, which would prohibit VA from sending the names of veterans and other VA beneficiaries to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System - a government database used to deny individuals the ability to purchase a firearm - unless an appropriate judicial authority first makes the determination that these individuals pose a danger to themselves or others.

"With Memorial Day fast approaching, and Americans taking the time to remember the service and sacrifice of veterans who paid the ultimate price for our country, we must also take the opportunities to support our current servicemembers and veterans, as well as their spouses and families who also put military service ahead of self and contribute to making our nation what it is today," Burr added.