To the editor,
How to politicize a bill by co-sponsoring:
I am amazed at seeing 300 co-sponsors of HR 299 (the Vietnam Blue Water Navy Bill of 2017) yet only a handful of congressmen take a proactive role in solving the offset problem facing this bill. All new bill must have an offset, which does not increase the national debt. It’s called PayGo. So, it only takes a few legislators that find an excuse to deny funding for one reason or another. They signed up as co-sponsors knowing that their signature would bring veterans’ votes, no matter what the outcome. These legislators win if the Blue Water Navy wins or loses. All they have to do is stand by and do nothing.
One proposal was to round down the benefits checks of all veterans, costing veterans a maximum of $11.88 per year. The Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) at the Military Coalition meeting refused to agree to the “round-downs.” Led by the VFW, American Legion and somewhat supported by MOAA, the general consensus was that round-downs were not acceptable. In other words, to save $11.88 per veteran per year, 90,000 Blue Water Navy veterans and 50,000 Guam veterans will not have health coverage and financial assistance due to exposure to toxins during their service.
Not one House representative called for the VSOs to pressure them to at least put it to a vote of the VSO membership. Not one representative has called on the President to step in and use his executive powers. Not one representative has gone to the floor to ask for a vote, thus assuring that funds will be made available from a suitable source. Not one representative has called on emergency legislation to bypass PayGo restrictions. These restrictions have been lifted in the past.
I call on every member of the House to put all that talent together and come up with a plan. I challenge every one of them to stand up and say “Sorry, the lives of these Veterans are just not important.” What politician would say that? Not a one.
Ask them what, as a co-sponsor, have they done to advance this bill? You will get a letter saying how they support our veterans and will vote “accordingly” when the time comes.
Raymond G. Melninkaitis
The writer is the director of corporate resources for the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Association.