For the Veteran

Various information for Veterans different government programs available to assist Veterans in starting a business. Veterans benefits programs. This is not a political blog but we will speak our minds about current treatment of Veterans returning from the Gulf.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Lawmaker wants new look at veterans issues

By Rick Maze - Staff writer
Posted : Monday Feb 5, 2007 16:18:35 EST

The new chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee says he wants to try something new by holding roundtable discussions on such issues as reducing the backlog of veterans’ benefits claims and improving mental health programs, instead of traditional hearings in which lawmakers pepper administration witnesses with questions.

Rep. Bob Filner, D-Calif., said in an interview that with Democrats controlling Congress and Republicans controlling the executive branch, traditional hearings don’t seem like the best way to proceed because they are confrontational, not designed to achieve solutions.

Filner became chairman in January as Democrats took control of the House of Representatives

Filner’s idea, to be tested with a first roundtable discussion about the growing backlog of benefits claims, would involve lawmakers and subject-matter experts from the Department of Veterans Affairs and veterans’ service organizations.

“I am not a professional facilitator, but I do know how to reach a solution,” Filner said, describing the meetings as “trying to look at the problem and how we are going to solve it.”

Secretary of Veterans Affairs R. James Nicholson has agreed to cooperate, Filner said.

Filner acknowledged the approach represents a big change for members of Congress who are accustomed to getting attention for their sometimes blistering attacks on administration witnesses. Filner himself has even been considered a chief attack dog on veterans’ issues. But, he said, “We don’t have to get headlines through attacking somebody. We could get headlines by solving the problems.”

Filner said he understands that veterans and veterans’ service organizations have high expectations for what Democrats can do, because when Republicans controlled Congress, Democrats promised they would do things differently. “Now, we have to see if we can keep our word,” he said.

The issue of long-range funding for veterans’ health care will serve as a test, he said. Democratic leaders have supported so-called mandatory funding to pay for veterans medical programs that would be based on the number of eligible people and the cost of care. The idea, untested for veterans’ programs, could make veterans’ health care less susceptible to political fortunes, although some opponents of the idea have worried that veterans’ programs might end up with less money if politicians are prohibited from adding funds.

Source Navy Times Online

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