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Updates from Rep. Gabbard (July 28-30)

MEDIA RELEASE

GABBARD STATEMENT ON CONFIRMATION OF NEW VA SECRETARY

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard released the following statement regarding the U.S. Senate’s confirmation of Bob McDonald as the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA):

“The hard work now truly begins for Secretary McDonald. He will take on the challenge of overhauling a major government bureaucracy, while recommitting the VA to its most important mission of serving our veterans and their families first. I urge Secretary McDonald to take action to immediately provide long-waiting veterans with care from non-VA healthcare providers in their community, and hold VA officials accountable for any misconduct or negligence. Veterans in Hawai‘i and across the country have ultimately paid the price for the VA’s incompetence, and deserve a servant leader who will act courageously, establish a culture of accountability, and begin to earn the trust of our nation once again. I congratulate Secretary McDonald on his confirmation, and look forward to working with him in this shared mission of serving and honoring our veterans.”

A vocal advocate for veterans, and veteran herself, Gabbard recently introduced ACT Now for Veterans (H.R. 5131), bipartisan legislation to immediately allow eligible veterans to access non-VA healthcare with the assurance the VA will cover the bill. Last week, she also called on congressional leadership to keep Congress in session until VA healthcare reform is passed.

GABBARD PRAISES ACTION ON VETERANS HEALTH REFORM BILL, ACCESS TO NON-VA HEALTHCARE PROVIDERS

Gabbard praised House and Senate negotiators on reaching a compromise to the Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare reform bill. For months, Gabbard has been an outspoken advocate – and has introduced bipartisan legislation – to provide veterans with immediate access to non-VA doctors. The compromise VA healthcare bill incorporates the foundation of her proposal and will require the VA to issue eligible veterans a “Veterans Choice Card” to enable them to access healthcare from non-VA doctors in their community.

“Veterans deserve a VA that puts their care first. This compromise bill takes a strong, bipartisan step toward a much-needed overhaul,” said Gabbard, a twice-deployed combat veteran. “I have long called for urgent action, and introduced legislation, to make it so our veterans don’t have to wait any longer to see a doctor, and go to a non-VA doctor in their community to get the care they need. The ‘Veterans Choice Card’ in this legislation seeks to do that by ensuring that veterans who have been waiting months or years to get an appointment will be able to access care immediately from a healthcare provider in their own community. Once the bill passes, we need to make sure that the VA issues these cards immediately, so our veterans can get the care they need.”

Also included in the compromise bill are reforms that allow for the firing or demotion of poorly performing or corrupt senior managers at the VA, and also provides $5 billion to hire more medical staff and improve facilities.

“In order to best serve our veterans, we must remove the bad actors at the VA, bring in fresh, experienced leadership, and hire more healthcare providers to ensure timely care for our veterans. They have been waiting for far too long just for basic health needs. We owe it to our brave men and women to hold up our end of the bargain,” Gabbard said.

Last week, Gabbard introduced ACT Now for Veterans (H.R. 5131), bipartisan legislation to immediately allow eligible veterans to access non-VA healthcare with the assurance the VA will cover the bill. Her bill would not require veterans to receive VA preauthorization before seeking outside care. On Friday, she also joined with 116 colleagues to call on congressional leadership to keep Congress in session until VA healthcare reform is passed.

The compromise VA healthcare reform bill must now be voted on in the House and Senate before it can be signed into law by President Obama.

HOUSE APPROVES GABBARD-BACKED NORTH KOREA SANCTIONS

The U.S. House of Representatives has approved North Korean sanctions co-sponsored by Gabbard.

The North Korea Sanctions Enforcement Act of 2014 (H.R. 1771) requires the President to impose targeted sanctions on people or entities in other countries that contribute directly or indirectly to weapons development, arms trafficking, money laundering, and human rights abuses in North Korea.

“As North Korea continues to make threats and conduct missile launches, we must take action to cut off their supply lines and sources of financial support,” said Gabbard, who traveled to the Korean Peninsula in April with a congressional delegation. “The North Korea Sanctions Enforcement Act will impose sanctions on the people or nations that support North Korea’s dangerous nuclear ambitions and threaten people throughout the Asia-Pacific and the U.S., including Hawaii. By putting these robust sanctions in place, we can target those who directly, or through willful negligence, enable North Korea to produce these missiles and nuclear delivery systems.”

H.R. 1771 also directs the U.S. Treasury Department to restrict access to the U.S. financial system for North Korean banks and third party enablers. Sanctions can be waived for humanitarian aid and when a waiver supports U.S. national interests.

“In my recent travels to the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia, I spoke with our partners and heard firsthand their concerns about North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats and the instability this wreaks on the region. In Hawaii, and throughout the Pacific, we share these concerns and must take a firm stand to stop the flow of money, weapons technology, and supplies into North Korea,” Gabbard said.

Last weekend, on the eve of the 61st anniversary of the armistice agreement that suspended the Korean War, North Korea reportedly conducted a short-range ballistic missile launch. North Korea has conducted 15 missile tests so far in 2014.

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