May 3rd-- Veterans Affairs
Earlier this month, the Veterans Affairs committee held a hearing to further investigate the Oakland Regional VA's systemic dysfunction that was made public thanks to whistleblowers who contacted my office. An investigation by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) corroborated these troubling reports of unprocessed claims being left in a file cabinet for decades. Mrs. RustyAnn Brown, a veteran of the U.S. Navy and former employee at the Oakland VA Regional Office, flew to DC to bravely testify about her experiences working on a special team that was assigned to process these claims. Mrs. Brown discussed how Oakland VA managers intentionally neglected 13,184 informal benefits claims, some for over a decade, and then attempted to cover up their failures. I questioned the Oakland VA Director on these mishandled claims and how we can make sure each and every veteran receives the benefits and service they deserve. To view the full hearing, please click here.
This past week, Congress passed H.R. 2029, the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. In addition to providing critical funding to the Department of Veterans Affairs, this measure contains important reforms to speed up VA claims processing, including 770 new staff members to tackle claims issues. It also funds an electronic health record system and requires disclosure of the VA’s progress toward reducing the 171,000 disability claims that have been pending for more than 125 days. In order to prevent problems like those we found in Oakland, I offered an amendment requiring the VA to report all informal claims to Congress. My amendment was adopted unanimously, and I appreciate the support it received from my colleagues on both sides of the aisle.
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During the VA Committee hearing, Rep. LaMalfa displays a photo taken at the Oakland VA in April of the continued backlog of benefits requests not yet resolved. To view the full committee hearing, please click here
Whistleblower Rustyann Brown is interviewed after testifying before the Veterans Affairs Committee on April 22nd.
Rep. LaMalfa (R-CA) offers an amendment to H.R. 2029 requiring the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to now include the number of unprocessed informal health claims in the quarterly report submitted to Congress. To view him on the House Floor, please click here.
Rep. LaMalfa meets with Elizabeth Hadley and other members of the Northern California Power Agency to discuss how unnecessary red tape and regulations coming from Washington increase the cost of public utilities. Rep. LaMalfa partnered with Rep. Costa to introduce the Public Power Risk Management Act, a bill to protect millions of consumers in California, and across the country, from increased energy fees. To learn more about the measure, please click here.