Esty: ‘House-Passed Defense Bill Is a Win for Connecticut and for the Fifth District’
July 14, 2017
Esty’s amendment to improve the benefits process for new veterans was unanimously adopted by the House
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty (CT-5) today voted in favor of H.R. 2810, the FY 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which passed the House by a bipartisan vote of 344-81.
“I’m proud to support this bipartisan defense bill, which strengthens military readiness, supports our service members, and creates jobs in Connecticut,” Esty said. “The bill provides much-needed certainty and stability to the manufacturing and defense supply chain, keeping companies like Danbury’s DRS Consolidated Controls and UTC Aerospace Systems hard at work producing submarine and aircraft components for the next five years and beyond. The bottom line is this: today’s bill helps keep Americans safe – and helps put Nutmeggers to work.
“I’m also thrilled my colleagues voted unanimously to approve my amendment to help service members more smoothly transition from active duty to veteran status,” Esty added. “Every man and woman who serves this country deserves a good-paying job, quality health care, and easy access to the benefits they’ve earned. My amendment will help us make sure that no veterans end up falling through the cracks.”
Provisions of the bill that are particularly beneficial for Connecticut include:
• $3.3 billion in funding for two Virginia-class submarines in FY 2018;
• An authorization for the Navy procure up to 13 Virginia-class submarines beginning in FY 2019 at a rate of three submarines per year; and
• The addition of 17 additional F-35s for a total fleet of 87.
Esty’s amendment, which passed the House by voice vote, directs the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs to issue a comprehensive report to Congress outlining ways to improve service members’ transition from active duty to veteran status. The amendment directs the DOD and VA to:
• Assess the feasibility of requiring service members to apply for their veterans’ benefits before the completion of their service;
• Assess the feasibility of performing compensation and pensions examinations with service members before they complete their service to ensure they receive all their earned benefits; and
• Identify ways to speed up the process by which service members who undergo medical discharge transition to VA care.
Esty is a member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee and serves as the top Democrat on the Disability and Memorial Affairs (DAMA) Subcommittee, which oversees veterans’ compensation. In May, she and DAMA Subcommittee Chairman Mike Bost (R-IL) passed landmark legislation through the House to reform the VA appeals process and reduce the claims backlog.
Esty this year has also introduced bipartisan bills to improve support for family caregivers, reduce gender disparities at the VA, and aid veterans who have been exposed to burn pits.
Yesterday, Esty joined the entire House Veterans Affairs Committee to introduce an update to the GI Bill that provides the biggest expansion of veterans’ education benefits in a decade.