Washington, D.C. - Today, Rep. Phil Roe, M.D. (R-Tenn.), the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, and Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.), the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity, released the following statements after sending a letter to Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Hoyer requesting that H.R. 3504, as amended, the Ryan Kules and Paul Benne Specially Adaptive Housing Improvement Act of 2019, be brought to the House floor for a full vote before the House recesses for five weeks at the end of July.
"More than 90 days ago, our Senate colleagues passed this bill to improve the quality of life for our most seriously injured veterans," said Ranking Member Roe. "It is past time for the House to follow suit. This bill would make a number of changes to VA programs, including one that helps those who have been catastrophically injured live more comfortably in their own homes – a luxury most of us don’t even have to think twice about. It is the product of bipartisan, bicameral negotiations that were resolved several months ago and it is baffling why the House has not acted on it long before now. We cannot and should not let election year politics get in the way of helping those who have made life-altering sacrifices for their fellow Americans. I hope Speaker Pelosi and Leader Hoyer will act in good faith to bring this bipartisan bill to the floor before departing for the August recess so that we can send it to President Trump’s desk and finally give the thousands of wounded warriors who will benefit from it the peace of mind they have more than earned."
"Our most critically wounded Veterans have already waited too long for the program improvements which are included in this legislation," said Rep. Bilirakis. "This is a bill that has widespread bipartisan, bicameral support. Moving it forward ought to be a priority for Members of both parties—our heroes deserve no less. Therefore, I urge House Leadership to immediately place the bill on the agenda for final consideration."
"Wounded Warrior Project has advocated for the passage of H.R. 3504, the Ryan Kules and Paul Benne Specially Adaptive Housing Improvement Act of 2019, for over a year now. This bill is critical in assisting those with severe disabilities adapt their homes to accommodate their service-connected injuries. We ask the U.S. House of Representatives to move swiftly in passing this piece of legislation. July 30, 2020 is the 30th anniversary of the American with Disabilities Act. There is no better way to honor this historic piece of legislation protecting those with disabilities by passing H.R. 3504, which honors those who gave so much in defense of this county," said Derek Fronabarger, Government Affairs Director, Wounded Warrior Project.
"Blinded Veterans Association requests that Congressional leadership prioritize H.R. 3504, thus honoring the tremendous sacrifice our nation’s blinded and severely disabled veterans have made in defense of our great nation. The legislation will finally grant access to VA’s Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) program to service-connected blinded veterans, empowering them with the resources so desperately needed to adapt their homes with accessible technology and accommodations for independent living," said Donald Overton, Blinded Veterans Association Executive Director.
More information about the Ryan Kules and Paul Benne Specially Adaptive Housing Improvement Act of 2019 can be found here.
The full text of the letter can be found here and below:
The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
U.S. House of Representatives
H-232, The Capitol
Washington, DC 20215
The Honorable Steny Hoyer
U.S. House of Representatives
H-107, The Capitol
Washington, DC 20215
Dear Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Hoyer:
We write to you today to respectfully request that you schedule floor consideration for H.R. 3504, as amended, the Ryan Kules and Paul Benne Specially Adaptive Housing Improvement Act of 2019, prior to recessing for five weeks on July 31st.
H.R. 3504 is a bipartisan bill that was introduced with Representative Mike Levin to make important improvements to the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) Specially Adaptive Housing program, which helps severely injured veterans modify their homes to live with greater comfort, freedom, and quality of life. The bill would also make important changes to VA’s Work Study program and improvements to the Post-9/11 GI Bill. It has the full support of numerous veteran service organizations including the Paralyzed Veterans of America, the Blinded Veterans Association, the Wounded Warrior Project, the Student Veterans of America, and many others.
H.R. 3504, as amended, passed the House via voice vote almost a year ago, on July 23, 2019. Since then, we have worked with our Senate colleagues to reach a bipartisan, bicameral agreement on amended text that the Senate passed on March 26, 2020, by unanimous consent.
With so few legislative days left in the 116th Congress, we want to ensure that this bill, which would have a demonstrably positive impact on the most seriously wounded veterans, becomes law without any further delays. Due to the delays that have already occurred, one of the bill’s namesakes, Paul Benne, will never be able to see it signed into law; he passed away in December. We understand that scheduling is difficult due to COVID-19. However, we ask that you commit to bringing this bill before the House before departing for the August district work period in honor of Mr. Benne and of all the brave men and women who have paid great personal cost in defense of the American way of life.
David P. Roe, M.D.
Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity
CC: The Honorable Kevin McCarthy, Republican Leader
The Honorable Mark Takano, Chairman, Committee on Veterans Affairs
The Honorable Mike Levin, Chairman, Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity, Committee on Veterans’ Affairs