Here is an update on our legislation and our litigation involving VA Benefits for the Blue Water Navy personnel.
John Wells, our legal counsel, has provided a summary report following his several weeks' time spent in Washington ending Friday, 7/8/2016. You can find his comments below.
I would like to provide a little additional background and clarification to a few things John mentions:
The Rules of Suspension in the House can be put into effect once 2/3 of the House has approved a Bill. That is 66% of 435 House Representatives, which is 290 cosponsors. HR969 currently has 331 cosponsors, which is 76% of the House. HOWEVER, Representative Chris Gibson, who introduced HR969 in the House, was stopped from doing a 'suspension of the rules' action by 'the House Leadership.' Without the Leadership support, there cannot be any action within the House. I don't like that; Chris Gibson doesn't like that; but HR969 is being denied the use of the 'Suspension of the Rules' rule. Go figure!
The Bills (HR-969 and S-681) are not actually 'dead' at this point in time. There are still a few things that COULD happen that would save them. But the chance of that happening, although possible, has a pretty low probability. It ain't over 'til it's over, but we're getting really short and if things don't happen before the summer recess, or if the posse doesn't ride in to our rescue in the closing days of this current Congress, we are fated to once again see both Bills die in Committee and need to be re-introduced in the next (115th) Congress. So far, it has done no good to plead mercy because Vietnam Veterans are dying of herbicide exposure. It is obvious that the men and women we have in the House and Senate aren't willing to just up and get this legislation implemented. We already knew that the VA is not likely to change any internal rules to help us…… so there is your bottom line! Our representatives in Washington are OK with seeing us die for our Country!
John mentions the latest CBO Score of $1.1 Billion over 10 years. There had been a previous CBO ESTIMATE of $830 Million. I don't know where that number went, but I believe the CBO may have made a miscalculation based on a misunderstanding. But if our legislative efforts are still 'money-driven' after 9 years of laying our arguments and facts on the table, then I predict that our chances of EVER seeing any VA Benefits for Agent Orange-sick Blue Water Navy Veterans is pretty damned slim, this year or in any year.
John also mentions our court cases in Federal District Court. There are actually two court actions currently underway. The first is the suit against the VA for denying Blue Water Navy benefits that the Federal Circuit Court initially said they did not have jurisdiction to hear. We appealed that initial decision and should have a ruling on that issue any day. If approved, we will move forward making our case against the VA to the Federal Court.
The second action is a suit against the VA for their release of the February 5th, 2016 updates to the M-21 Manual, which state in writing their stance on denying that any bays, port, harbors or other offshore water were contaminated with Agent Orange dioxin. Those changes were released by the VA despite the ruling of the Gray Case, which they were expected to respond to. That February 5th action by the VA was the equivalent of them giving the finger to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims by refusing to respond to that court's criticism. The VA also recently gave the finger to the Senate Appropriations Committee by telling them that regardless of what they did regarding S-681 funding, they (the VA) had no intention of providing any benefits for the Blue Water Navy offshore personnel.
I'm sorry to say I've really had my fill of both 'political posturing' masquerading as support for our legislation, and the illegal and criminal activity of a rogue and lawless government department allowed to run wild by an equally corrupt White House Administration. They may not have started it, but they sure have no intention of stopping it or reining it in!
If you could provide a donation to help cover our operating expenses and court costs, we would be very appreciative!
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