Washington, D.C. - Today, Rep. Phil Roe, M.D. (R-Tenn.), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, released the following statement after the House passed the bipartisan Veterans' Access to Child Care Act of 2019, H.R. 840:
"I have always been an advocate for reducing barriers to care for our veterans, as it is imperative that they are able to receive care in the most effective and timely manner - especially mental health care," said Roe. "As a father and grandfather, I am well aware of the difficulty of finding affordable and convenient child care and the additional burdens that result from a failure to find such care. That is why I am pleased that the House passed the Veterans' Access to Child Care Act of 2019. This legislation would give VA the authority to provide child care to certain veterans who are receiving mental health care or other intensive health care services and is almost identical to a bill that passed the House in 2017 during the 115th Congress and accepted unanimously, that unfortunately was not accepted by the Rules Committee in this Congress.
"While I support this bill and the need to provide child care for veterans, I do have one concern with the legislation. While last Congress a similar bill passed unanimously with an offset, now not only does the legislation not include any effort at fiscal responsibility, but Democrats won’t even debate.
"My colleague, Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.), offered an amendment, which would use the same pay-for that was included in the 115th Congress version. Unfortunately, the Rules Committee did not rule that in order yesterday. Regardless of the fact that the House Democrats removed the rule to require a pay-for, it is careless to not provide an option to pay for the bill if we can.
"While Democrats have changed the rules regarding how legislation must be paid for, it still comes down to how we spend taxpayer dollars, this is not something I take lightly. This action of simply tossing the problem aside and leaving it for the appropriators to deal with is unwise and will have long-term ramifications for other VA programs if we do not tread carefully.
"Despite my stated concern and disappointment that a selection of well intended amendments, including my own, were not considered, I support this bill.The underlying intentions of the legislation are good and I hope to see it become law.”
The Veterans' Access to Child Care Act, introduced by Rep. Julia Brownley, would make VA’s pilot program for child care a permanent program at VA for veterans who are receiving regular mental health services and other intensive health care services from VA. Click here for more information. Read the bill here.