Congressman Kurt Schrader (OR-05) submitted four amendments for consideration to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to protect our veterans, increase transparency, and eliminate government waste.
Congressman Schrader submitted the following legislation as amendments to the NDAA to protect veterans in Oregon and across the country:
- The Recalled Veterans Protection Act (RVPA), which is cosponsored by Rep. Carol Shea Porter (D-NH), would create protections for service members who have been injured after being involuntarily called back to service to ensure they are able to receive their due retirement pay. In Oregon, Sergeant First Class Alan Certain separated from the Army in 1992 under the Voluntary Separation Incentive (VSI) program, also known as a buyout meant to encourage permanent service member to retire early. In 2005, Certain was involuntarily called back to service in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom (OIF/OEF), and in 2010, he sustained injuries that rated him 100% service connected disabled. Upon his retirement in 2014, Certain should have begun to receive retirement pay. However, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) has withheld the veteran’s retirement checks until he returns the VSI amount in full. Existing law allows the DFAS to waive repayment, but does not provide consistent protection for veterans. Rep. Schrader’s RPVA legislation would support veterans by providing a blanket exemption from VSI repayment should they sustain a total service related injury during involuntary recall.
- The Halting of Mortgage Exploitation of Servicemembers (HOMES) Act would provide greater clarity and uniformity to the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). The SCRA is designed to provide protection for active duty servicemembers, including Reservists and members of the National Guard, from civil obligations while they are deployed. Among these obligations are mortgage payments, leases, taxes and credit card debt. Under the SCRA, mortgage lenders are prohibited from foreclosing on active duty servicemembers. Unfortunately, the law does not include a statute of limitations and, as a result, discretion is left to the courts who simply defer to the closest applicable state law. With the statute of limitations varying state-by-state and no uniform application of the law, this often leaves a gray area with much uncertainty for our servicemembers. Rep. Schrader’s HOMES legislation will establish a national 10-year statute of limitations under the SCRA to protect our veterans and servicemembers.
“Our servicemen and women have earned certain basic benefits,” said Rep. Schrader. “A lot of our warriors who have gone above and beyond their duty to protect us find themselves losing their homes or getting bad credit because they’ve received bad information, or frankly, just don’t know their rights. My HOMES Act is a simple, no-brainer bill to protect our fighting men and women from exploitation by unscrupulous lenders while they put their lives on the line in service to our country. Additionally, current law does not do enough to protect our veterans after they’ve been involuntarily called back into service. My legislation reminds the brave men and women who put their lives on the line to protect us that we will not turn our backs on them. I’ve always stood up for our veterans, and I will especially continue to stand up to protect our most vulnerable vets.”
Congressman Schrader submitted the following legislation as amendments to the NDAA to reduce government waste and increase transparency, continuing his record of promoting a holistic approach to the federal budget to eliminate waste and bring down the debt:
The Department of Defense Overhead Cost Savings and Transparency Act, which is cosponsored along with Reps. Francis Rooney (R-FL), Peter Welch (D-VT), Rod Blum (R-IA), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), and Ralph Norman (R-SC), would require the Department of Defense to report to Congress on ways they are finding to save money, and work they are doing to implement savings laid out by the 2015 Defense Business Board report, which revealed $125 billion in administrative waste over five years, and for alternative recommendations to achieve cost-savings within the Department of Defense.
- Legislation to strike exemptions for budgetary cost-savings at the Department of Defense, which is cosponsored with Reps. Peter Welch (D-VT) and Jamie Raskin (D-MD). Rather than limiting programs that may be considered for waste reduction in the DOD budget exclusively to support functions, this legislation would require the Chief Management Officer to consider savings throughout DOD, removing exemptions that currently stand for particular offices and programs. This would require DOD to take a comprehensive look at the budget for potential cost-savings and how best to allocate its resources agency wide to avoid redundancy and spend taxpayer dollars more efficiently.
“Rather than inflating what appears to be an inefficiently allocated budget, we should be focused on ensuring our courageous servicemen and women have all of the resources they need to be safe and successful,” said Rep. Schrader. “Throwing more money at an entire agency does not equate to our troops getting those needed resources. We need to be smarter about the way we spend and not just spend more. It’s our duty in Congress to make sure taxpayer money is being used wisely, and that we are keeping our troops well supplied to serve our country, keep us safe, and defend freedom around the world.”