What follows is the reply from Senator Webb to a veteran regarding the Senator's stall tactics re: the additional 3 presumptive diseases.
Has the Senator forgotten his Veteran and Marine Corps roots?
Dear Mr. __________
Thank you for contacting my office regarding veterans affected by Agent Orange. I appreciate your taking the time to share your views.
Our nation has a special obligation to provide health care to our service members and veterans, particularly those with an injury or illness resulting from their service. I have spent my entire adult life advocating on behalf of veterans and will continue to fight for the best interests of the men and women who serve our nation in uniform. Furthermore, from 1977 to 1981 I had the honor of serving as a full committee counsel on the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, and spent a great deal of time working on this specific issue.
On March 25, 2010, the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced his intention to add B-cell Leukemia, Parkinson's disease, and coronary artery disease to the list of presumptive conditions associated with exposure to Agent Orange. This decision was taken without full consultation with the Congress. Consequently, during consideration of the bill to provide funding for this determination, I introduced an amendment clarifying that under existing law the VA is required to provide a 60-day congressional review period prior to spending funds under the proposed new regulation. I am a staunch defender of Congress's constitutional oversight responsibility. To that end, I have requested that the VA provide the scientific data used by the Secretary to make his determination. He is now scheduled to do so in a hearing that will be held in September.
As a Vietnam combat veteran, former full committee counsel to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, and as a current member of the Senate Committees on Armed Services and Veterans' Affairs, I take a back seat to no one in my concern for our veterans. Your views on veterans affected by Agent Orange are very helpful to me and my staff, and I hope that you will continue to share your views with us in the years ahead. I would also invite you to visit my website at http://www.webb.senate.gov/ for regular updates about my activities and positions on matters that are important to Virginia and our nation.
Thank you once again for contacting my office.
United States Senator