Supporting a 21st Century GI Bill
This week the House passed a series of bills focused on improving services for veterans, active-duty servicemembers, and their families. H.R. 3218, the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017, increases and expands access to educational support as provided by the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Thanks to this measure, college education is now a lifetime benefit for our veterans.
H.R. 282, the Military Choice Residency Act, enables spouses of active military men and women to use the address of their military spouse – something that is important for reasons of voting and taxation. Lastly, H.R. 1690, the Department of Veterans Affairs Bonus Transparency Act, turns a spotlight on senior officials at the Department of Veterans Affairs to identify those who may have acted nefariously to secure bonus pay.
On Tuesday the House voted to strengthen sanctions against Russia in response to the Kremlin’s efforts to undermine the 2016 U.S. presidential election. H.R. 3364, the Russia, Iran, and North Korea Sanctions Act, also increases economic and political pressure on the rogue regimes of Iran and North Korea. The bipartisan measure passed the House by an overwhelming vote of 419 to 3. Additionally, the Russia, Iran, and North Korea Sanctions Act requires a vote from Congress before the president can ease or lift sanctions on Russia.
Fighting for Clean Water and Stronger Infrastructure
As part of H.R. 3219, the combined Defense, Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, Legislative Branch, and Energy and Water Development National Security Appropriations Act, this week the House passed report language that clarifies years-old authorization for federal funding for the Whaley Lake Dam in Pawling, Dutchess County. This report language states that now the Town of Pawling may seek funds from the Army Corps of Engineers to make critical repairs to its dam, which was originally built in the mid-1800s.
I spoke on the floor of the House this week in support of this legislation. You can watch my remarks here or by clicking the image above.
Standing Up for Dairy Farmers
Our dairy farmers are experiencing some of the lowest milk prices in years, consumption is down and Washington’s risk-management tools are failing them. The Margin Protection Program (MPP) was designed to act as a safeguard for farmers to pay into and protect them from low milk prices, but the program has paid out virtually nothing.
Instead of standing by while farmers suffer, I reached out to my fellow Upstate New Yorkers and was able to bring almost everyone to a consensus that our farmers need immediate relief and cannot wait until the next Farm Bill arrives. Our bipartisan coalition of Upstate dairy districts banded together to urge the USDA to use its existing authority to make milk an agricultural commodity eligible under the Federal Crop Insurance Program. This administratively small but impactful change can help dairy farmers manage their risk more effectively and better protect New York’s $2.5 billion-plus dairy economy.
I am proud to have been joined by both Republicans and Democrats on this important bipartisan letter. The letter can be read here.