tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN July 30, 2014 2:00pm-4:01pm EDT
designed by the founders with checks and balances. you don't want a president that's too powerful, a congress that's too powerful or a court that's too powerful. everybody's got their own role. congress' job is to pass legislation. the president can veto it or sign it, but what george bush has been doing as part of his effort to accumulate more power in the presidency, he's been saying, well, i can basically change what congress passed without attaching -- by attaching a letter saying i tonight agree with this part or that. i'm going to choose to interpret it this way or that way. it's not part of his power, but it's part of the whole theory of george bush that he can make laws as he goes along. i disagree with that. once again, quoting then-senator obama. senator obama says, i taught the constitution for 10 years. i believe in the constitution
of the united states. correction. i believe in the constitution. i will obey the constitution of the united states. . i tonight know what happened from the trip from the capitol down to 1600 pennsylvania avenue how this changed. but i guess the presidency can change your view of the world. may not be an accurate view of the world but it can change it. i think what then senator obama said rang true then and rings true today. it is about the separation of power. let me tell you something, my friends on the other side of the aisle should be standing there with us because for too long this house has now become irrelevant. congress in general is becoming irrelevant. when i got elected just over four years ago, i came up here with a purpose. i came up here in the belief in the constitution and that there are separation of powers between
the executive branch, the legislative branch, and the judicial branch. but now i hate to say it, in my four years, i have become disenchanted with the fact that this house for way too long has just been cooperating and grad wait kind of attitude -- and graduate kind of attitude. i don't think we should do that. that's why today the buck stops here. we've got make a stand in regards to the constitution relevant? is this house relevant? if not, we should just all go home. there's no reason to be here. i have three sons that serve their country. that have put their lives on the line for this country. not by their own choice -- they serve their country at their choice, but when they go off in the war, it's a direction of the
president. it's a direction to protect this country. and they do so willingly. they raise their hand to say they are going to support and defend the constitution. i raise it as a police officer outside of chicago. i raised it as a deputy sheriff and i raised it as sheriff. i raised it here when i got sworn in as a member of this body. i take that serious. and i take it serious when anybody thinks that they can trample on the constitution. i take it serious when anybody thinks that they are above where we need to be. this legislation is about empowering the speaker of the house. if he so deems it to sue the president. i happen to agree with that. mr. speaker, we could talk all day, or at least i could, in regards to why it's important that this house, this house
protects its prerogative in regards to passing legislation. reminding the executive branch as to what their duties are. this isn't about democrats and republicans. let me tell you something, i want here before this. got here four years ago. i don't care if it's republican or democrat or independent or whatever, i believe in this institution. i believe in the constitution of this country. and i believe we should do everything in our power to defend it. to patter who's trying to usurp it. so i encourage my colleagues for the last time to support this rule, to support this institution, and to support the constitution. it's about are we really serious about the checks and balances that our founding fathers so rightfully created?
with that i yield back the balance of my time and i move the previous question on the resolution. the speaker pro tempore: all time having expired for debate, the question is on ordering the previous question on the resolution. so many as are in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it. the gentlelady from new york. ms. slaughter: i ask a recorded vote, mr. speaker. the speaker pro tempore: does the gentlelady request the yeas and nays? ms. slaughter: yes, i request the yeas and nays. the speaker pro tempore: the yeas and nays are requested. those favoring a vote by the yeas and nays will rise. a sufficient number having arisen, the yeas and nays are ordered. pursuant to clause 8 of rule 20, further proceedings on this question will be postponed. the speaker pro tempore: pursuant to clause 8 of rule 20,
the chair will postpone further proceedings today on motions to suspend the rules on which a recorded vote or the yeas and nays are ored, or on which the vote insecures objection under clause of rule 20. record votes on -- clause 6 of rule 20. record votes on postponed questions will be taken later. for what purpose does the gentleman from north carolina seek recognition? >> mr. speaker, i move that the house suspend the rules and pass h.r. 5195, to provide additional visas for the afghan special immigrant visa program, as amended. the speaker pro tempore: the clerk will report the tiele of the bill. the clerk: h.r. 5195, a bill to provide additional visas for the afghan special immigrant visa program, and for other purposes. the speaker pro tempore: pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from north carolina, mr. holding, and the gentlewoman
from california, ms. lofgren, each will control 20 minutes. the chair recognizes the gentleman from north carolina. mr. holding: mr. speaker, i ask unanimous consent that all members may have five legislative days to revise and and include remarks extraneous materials on h.r. 5195, currently under consideration. the speaker pro tempore: without objection. mr. holding: thank you, mr. speaker. i yield myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. holding: h.r. 5195 makes available through the end of calendar year 2014, 1,000 visas for special immigrant visa program created by the afghan allies protection act of 2009. the ,000 visas are in addition to the 3,000 that congress already allocated for fiscal year 2014. the main eligibility, mr. speaker, requirement to receive the special immigrant visa under this program is the afghan principal applicant must have worked for or on behalf of the u.s. government for at least one year in afghanistan. the state department has
indicated that it will issue all ,000 of their original allocated visas by the beginning of august. the kept currently has around 300 approved applications simply waiting for additional visas to be allocated. that number will rise as state continues to process applications over the next few months. we must remember that simply because a visa cap is reached it does not mean that congress must automatically allocated additional visas. congress lair does so in immigration programs. i understand proponents of this legislation claim individuals waiting on a visa are in harm's way due to their work for the united states government and the drawdown of u.s. forces in the region. but as with any immigration program, mr. speaker, we must also be cognizant of our duty to ensure the safety and security of the united states by making sure that anyone issued a visa is not a threat to our public safety or national security.
so when there are calls for this program to be extended, once again before the balance of fiscal year 2015, the judiciary committee will be conducting oversight of the program. such oversight will allow us to make educated decisions on how many, if any, special immigrant visas should be allocated for fiscal year 2015. i look forward to that oversight and urge my colleagues to support this bill that we have under consideration. i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves the balance of his time. the gentlelady from california. ms. lofgren: mr. speaker, i yield myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady is recognized. ms. lofgren: mr. speaker, h.r. 5195 accomplishes the important goal of allowing these additional 1,000 afghan special immigrant visas to be issued before the end of the calendar year. as has been mentioned, this program was established in 2009 to protect afghan nationals who were placed in grave danger
because they were employed or assisted the united states. having benefited greatly from their faithful service, members on both sides of the aisle recognize that we owed a debt of gratitude. we owe these people and their family members the opportunity to live safely and freely. the afghan special imgrant visa program has not been without its -- immigrant visa program has not been without its problems. many of us have complained over the years the process for issuing the visas was too slow, cumbersome, and from the start of the program through fiscal the 2012, only 1,051 of 8,500 visas authorized by statute had actually been issued to deserving afghan nationals. in october of 2012, "the washington post" reported that more than 5,000 afghan special immigrant visa applications were sitting in a backlog waiting to be adjudicated. secretary kerry recently said that because of, quote, long
processing times for applicants, some deserving people were simply falling through the cracks. now, recently the program has undergone major improvements. this fiscal year alone, the state department has issued more afghan special immigrant visas than in all previous years combined. the process is now moving swiftly enough that we are coming right up against the cap of 3,000 visas that we said earlier this year in the act. that's where this bill comes in. by making these visas available to afghan nationals who are facing danger precisely because they provided service to our country, to america. this bill will help ensure we stand by our commitment to protect those who help to protect us. i think it's worth noting that keeping our commitment to these people, the large majority of whom acted as our translators in the field, is not merely a good in and of itself. it's important that the united states stands by its commitment
here because we ultimately have to work collaboratively with people all over the globe. we must ensure the message we send through our actions is that we honor those who take great personal risks to assist our men and women serving overseas. and we to not forget what they do. i support today's bill. i hope to work with my colleagues to support future extensions of this program, if necessary. and i urge my colleagues to also support this important measure. i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady reserves the balance of her time. the gentleman from north carolina. mr. holding: mr. speaker, with pleasure i yield three minutes to a champion on this issue, the gentleman from illinois, mr. kinzinger. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from illinois is recognized for three minutes. mr. kinzinger: thank you, mr. speaker. i'd like to thank chairman goodlatte for helping to bring this to the floor very quickly. also to the majority leader-elect kevin mccarthy, for his hard work. and also my good friend on the other side of the aisle, representative blumenauer, who's had a very passion for this program since even before i got
here. at a time when we just get done debating a lot of tough things, it's great to see times when republicans and democrats can come together and to things for those that fight hard on behalf of our country and on behalf of theirs. the special immigrant visa program was designed to provide safe refuge to the countless brave afghan men and women who willingly put their lives on the line and serve shoulder to shoulder with our service members in operation enduring freedom. this program is critical to our national security and to our service members and veterans in any future engagement that will likely come at some point in the future. it provides lifesaving programs to those who serve in u.s. missions and are now in danger as a result of the end of that service. the taliban are hunting these people down as we speak here today. because it's in our national interest security to keep these promises an protect our allies and simply because it's the right thing to do. i want you to think about for a second in a time of war what can american soldiers and american
marines and airmen and sailors do in order to communicate with the local population and to get them on our side versus the very tough and determined enemy? the basic thing is to be able to speak to the local population. you think about in many cases these young men and women, these translators, that in some cases wouldn't even put on anything to obscure their face, would stand side by side with american soldiers against taliban in very tough areas. many of them now as america withdraws its mission from afghanistan and winds down its mission, now find themselves under threat every day. and whether we agree or we disagree with the war in afghanistan and i -- anything like that, the reality of it is this, we all can agree those who are willing to stand by us to stand against this very, very bad enemy, well deserved to come here. we want to ensure we are going through the proper process. i want to commend the state department for recently improving their ability to process these applicants and to do so correctly and safely.
but i also would remind folks that when we talk about the united states of america who do we want here, people that are willing to stand shoulder to shoulder with our soldiers and defend our cause and defend their cause are the ones we'd like to see in the united states of america enjoying their freedom as well. i mentioned earlier, the threats that these people live under. it's estimated that multiple, multiple people are being killed every day that engage in this kind of effort on behalf of the united states, and so i want to commend everybody in this body for standing together to say that we need to stand with those that stood with us. recently, there was an interesting news special that interviewed a lot of these translators and something that struck me the most was somebody that had been denied a visa or at least taken a very long time to get still had faith and he stood up and had faith because -- mr. holding: i yield an additional minute. mr. kinzinger: he said he still
had faith he'd make it to the united states of america because the united states of america came to his country to help them and he knows that the united states of america will do the right thing. it's inspiring to see that kind of belief in our country that we have but to see it shared by those in war-torn areas. for my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, thank you very much. mr. blumenauer, thank you for your friendship and hard work. with that, mr. speaker, i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from north carolina reserves the balance of her time. the gentlelady from california. ms. lofgren: mr. speaker, i now yield two minutes to the gentleman from virginia, mr. moran. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from virginia is recognized for two minutes. mr. moran: thank you, mr. speaker. i thank my good friend from california for yielding me the time to add my voice to this bill which addresses an issue of national security and affirms our moral commitment to those who have risked their lives on our behalf. i especially want to give a shotout to mr. blumenauer, mr. kinzinger for their diligence in getting this measure to the floor.
during our war in afghanistan, our forces have been assisted ably and loyally by some afghan nationals who have been essential to the mission and the lives of our military. especially afghan interpreters. now that we're leaving afghanistan, these brave partners and their families face a mortal threat from the taliban. they're relying on us to uphold our commitment to return their loyalty, and now that time has come by allowing them to relocate to the united states. this special immigrant visa category recognizes the extraordinary debt we owe to these partners. as ms. lofgren mentioned, for a number of years that category suffered from administrative neglect, and the visa process was hardly functional. in the past year, though, important improvements have been made to the processing system and many more of our afghan allies are being admitted to the united states. among them is a remarkable man named jana who served as
translator alongside u.s. troops and saved army captain matt zeller who now has a life-long bond. jana is now a member of my staff in alexandria, virginia. he continues to hear the desperate stories of his fellow translators who are in great peril and desperately seek to leave afghanistan. unfortunately, there are no visas left for the many deserving afghans who are still in this administrative limbo. in fact, state estimates that we'll hit the statutory cap on visas this summer with thousands of applications still outstanding. the 1,000 visas authorized under this emergency measure are necessary. this bill is critical, but it does not represent the end of our responsibility on this issue. i look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to ensure that an appropriate number of visas are authorized for f.y. 2015. we have to stand by our friends and ensure that those who had the courage to work with us -- have the courage to work with
us in future conflicts will not be abandoned. thank you, mr. speaker. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from north carolina. mr. holding: it's a pleasure to yield two minutes to the gentleman from arkansas, mr. cotton. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from arkansas is recognized for two minutes. mr. cotton: i strongly support the emergency afghan allies extension act, which would add 1,000 new visas to afghans who served troops. this will provide safe refuge for afghans who put their lives on the line for operation enduring freedom. i served personally with several afghans who literally bled with us and still aspire to emigrate to america to conform to our laws. this program is also critical to our national security and to our troops who in the future will again serve around the world and need support from local nationals. if we don't stand with these brave afghans now, how will our troops in the future get the support they need?
indeed, many afghans who served with american forces are now hunted by the taliban and other terrorist groups. adding 1,000 visas this year may be the difference between life and death for some of these brave afghans. particularly as america withdraws our troops from that country. friends, colleagues, i urge you to support this bill because it's in our national security interest to keep -- interest, to keep our promise and to protect our allies. it's the right thing to do. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady from california. ms. lofgren: mr. speaker, i'm happy to yield to the author of this bill, the gentleman from oregon, mr. blumenauer, who has been a tremendous advocate to make sure that america does the right thing, four minutes. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from oregon is recognized for four minutes. mr. blumenauer: thank you. i appreciate the gentlewoman's courtesy. i appreciate her leadership on working with us on this challenging problem. mr. speaker, in a way this represents an amazing positive
development. i've been working in this area for 10 years, dealing with the plight of the foreign nationals that too often america was at risk of leaving behind. but in the course of our work, what has been set -- celebrated here is the challenge here today is the result of the administration listening to congress and improving a system that was fatally flawed. there's no polite way around it, but they've worked hard to improve it. as a result, the visas that we granted have expired. they're gone now. there are no more to be issued, and this additional 1,000 is critical to be able to get us through this gap. it is, mr. speaker, i think testimony to the fact that people here in congress can cross party lines, can work together cooperatively on problems we're focused. i appreciate the kind words of my friend, congressman kinzinger. we wouldn't be where we are
without him. his focus, his commitment and i must admit we should probably talk about his staff. michael, zack. there are a list of people who are heroes in this fight that i hope that we can spend a moment or two acknowledging because we did get cooperation from majority leader mccarthy, his security advisor, emily murray, chairman goodlatte, who has returned to this on numerous occasions. we wouldn't be here without him. leader cantor and his staff, particularly robert, who helped us navigate a similar crisis for the iraq program last fall. our whip, steny hoyer, and his policy members, daniel silverberg, tom marr, were kept their they eye on the ball and kept moving
forward. we have critical people in the outside world, the n.g.o.'s, particularly the iraq refugee assistance project. their gurus, rebecca, katie, helped provide the details that pushed -- and i have to admit that there's a champion in my office, my legislative director, michael harold, who is as responsible as any one single person who just would not give up, late nights, early mornings, weekends dealing with things that none of us want to know happened behind the scenes. but the point is that we are here. i am hopeful that this signals not just a new era in terms of our being able to get past this but that we take a comprehensive look at the afghans and the iraqis that are left behind because we're facing additional deadlines. and we shouldn't have to go through this on a repeated basis. it takes time that can be better spent more appropriately. i'm confident at the end we'll
do the right thing, but we shouldn't go down to the deadline. we shouldn't create doubt in the minds of these people who are waiting desperately, who are trying to evade the tender mercies of the al qaeda and the taliban who have long memories and who have hunted these people down. they've captured them. they've killed their siblings, tortured them, beheaded them. that is not a fate that they deserve. i was at the national airport when janice and captain matt zeller were united. and it's a moment i'll never forget. but our moving forward now with this legislation and committing ourselves to the big picture, doing it right on a cooperative basis means that it will make the difference for life or death for thousands of others that are waiting in this pipeline and it will make all of us feel better as we conclude this summer session
that we're doing it on a note of the sort of thing that we should do, how we should do it and why we should do it. thank you and i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady from california reserves the balance of her time. the gentleman from north carolina. mr. holding: i reserve. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves the balance of his time. the gentlelady from california. ms. lofgren: mr. speaker, i am roud to yield two minutes to the gentlelady from hawaii, ms. gabbard, who herself served our country in the armed services, two minutes. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady from hawaii is recognized for two minutes. ms. gabbard: thank you. it's a proud moment that we're witnessing here today as we see a bipartisan team of leaders here in congress who have so passionately been committed to this issue. taking action and finding a solution, not in an ideal way at this crunch time but nonetheless finding a solution that will help change people's lives. i can tell you that when i first joined the military, one of the very first lessons that was drilled into us as young privates by our drill instructors was the importance
of teamwork, that we cannot be successful as individuals and how crucial it is for us to work as members of a team towards that singular mission. one team, one fight. these afghan interpreters and their families put their lives on the line right alongside our troops, not carrying arms, not carrying ammunition to defend themselves but placing their lives in the hands of our service members as they work together to complete that mission. through that sacrifice, they became a member of our team. they felt pain with our losses, and they felt victorious in our successes. the very least we can do is take this small step and honor our commitment to our team members by passing h.r. 5195. this is one step towards keeping our promise and just beginning to repay the debt to
these afghan people who have served and sacrificed alongside us. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady from california reserves the balance of her time. the gentleman from north carolina. mr. holding: i reserve. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves the balance of his time. the gentlelady from california. ms. lofgren: mr. speaker, it is my honor to yield to the gentleman from massachusetts, mr. kennedy, two minutes. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from massachusetts is recognized for two minutes. mr. kennedy: thank you, mr. speaker. i want to thank my colleague from california for allowing me a chance to share some words today. i thank her for her leadership on this issue. to my colleague, mr. kinzinger and mr. blumenauer, thank you for your continued leadership on this issue and many others. it has been through your persistence and perseverance that this day come and you deserve gratitude and recognition for your work. thank you, mr. kinzinger. throughout the war in afghanistan, u.s. service men and women worked alongside thousands of afghan partners who were translators, drivers,
cooks, culture advisors. they risked their lives on a daily basis to come to work. they faced the very same violence, attacks and threats as u.s. troops but bravely put themselves in harm's way to aid in our shared mission. as frequently been the case in the past when the united states began to withdraw troops from afghanistan, congress created a special immigrant visa program opened to foreign nationals who served in critical roles and supported our american war effort. to date, more than 9,000 afghans have benefited from a special immigrant visa program. i'm pleased to hear that the state department has accelerated the processing time for these special visas in recent months. especially since there are over 6,000 still in the pipeline. however, as a result of this progress, the state department's quickly running out of the visas previously authorized by congress. the bill before us today will authorize 1,000 visas for the remainder of 2014. the state department can continue to process applications for afghan men and
women who aided our troops. most importantly, mr. speaker, this bill sends a message that the united states is a loyal partner, that we keep our word and we honor our promises, that we stand with those who stand with us in an ongoing fight for a fair and freer world. i urge my colleagues to support this bill, and i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady from california reserves the balance of her time. the gentleman from north carolina. mr. holding: i'd like to inquire whether the gentlelady from california has any further speakers. ms. lofgren: i have no additional requests to speak, so i'd be happy to close with a few remarks and yield back. mr. holding: mr. speaker, i yield one minute -- to minutes to the gentleman from illinois, mr. kinzinger, and then i'll be prepared to close after that. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for two minutes. mr. kinzinger: again, i won't take much time. it's inspiring to see both sides of the aisle talking about such a very important issue. i think it's important to note that when we access the shores
of the united states, americans stand together with those that stood with us. this is going to be a very important message to our current allies and, again, something that's important to understand as we all know, as history repeats itself, that at some point into the future -- and we hope it's all out into the future -- america will find itself engaged in something similar again, where we need the indigenous population to help us give them freedom and to defeat evil terrorism or whatever it may be at the time. and this is a message that we are sending to future conflict that we will stand with you. and in is also going to, -- and this is also going to, mr. speaker, save the lives of american marines, airmen, sailors, as they can communicate with the local population. for everybody involved, i want to say thank you and i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from north carolina reserves the balance of his time.
the gentlelady from california. ms. lofgren: i yield myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady is recognized. ms. lofgren: i'll just thank all of the people who worked so hard on this. certainly on both sides of the aisle and most especially mr. blumenauer who has just been great in his efforts to make sure that these translators were not left behind, not forgotten. . i am happy to support this bill for 1,000 visas today, however it's reported it there are 5,000 translators backlogged. we don't know in that 5,000 some may have been murdered already. some may have given up. some may have gone elsewhere. we don't know that we are going to need an additional number of visas, but we need to open our hearts in the same spirit of bipartisanship that if we fall short we are going to have to come together as a country because we all know, not only is this the right thing to do,
morally, but for our troops in the field, it is essential. people have to know in other countries that if they step forward to assist the united states, the united states will honor its promises to them. that's why this bill is so important not only for what it does, but what it stands for and why i urge its adoption. with that i would yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady yield back the balance of her time. the gentleman from north carolina. in olding: mr. speaker, closing on this, i yield myself the balance of the time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. holding: this is an important piece of bipartisan legislation. the afghans who are benefited by this legislation put their lives on the line for the united states of america. we owe them a debt of gratitude. i look forward in the coming congress doing oversight to look at the further backlog of
afghans who may be eligible for visas, and look through oversight how this program's being administrated and ensure that we are able to fulfill the promises that we have made to afghans who have helped us in the field. i encourage my colleagues to vote for this important piece of legislation. with that i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. all time having been yielded back, the question is will the house suspend the rules and pass the bill h.r. 5195, as amended. so many as are in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, 2/3 of those voting having responded in the affirmative, the rules are suspended, the bill is passed, and without objection the motion to reconsider is laid upon the table.
the speaker pro tempore: for what purpose does the gentleman from california seek recognition? mr. royce: mr. speaker, i move that the house suspend the rules and pass house concurrent resolution 107, as amended. the speaker pro tempore: the clerk will report the tile of the concurrent resolution. the clerk: house concurrent resolution 107, concurrent resolution denouncing the use of civilians as human shields by hamas and other terrorist organizations in violation of incht national -- international humanitarian law. the speaker pro tempore: pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from california, mr. royce, and the gentleman from new york, mr. engel, each are control 20 minutes. the chair recognizes the gentleman from california. mr. royce: thank you, mr. speaker. i ask unanimous consent that all members may have five legislative days to revise and
and to heir remarks include extraneous material on this resolution. the speaker pro tempore: without objection. mr. royce: thank you, mr. speaker. i yield myself such time as i may consume. rhett me begin by expressing my appreciation to chairman and ranking member of the middle eastern subcommittee, ms. ros-lehtinen of florida, and mr. deutch of florida, for their good work on this legislation. i'm pleased to work with mr. engel and the leadership to ensure that this legislation was scheduled for the floor today for consideration. mr. speaker, this legislation places responsibility for the escalation and violence squarely where it belongs, with the iranian-backed terrorist group, hamas. hamas is deliberately targeting
israeli civilians through the use not only of rockets but longer and longer range missiles, 2,500 of these so far. aimed at cities, tel aviv, jerusalem. attempting to attack israeli communities. remember, these attacks are at civilian populations, they are not at mill installations. and -- military installations. and perpetuating kidnapping and murder, which started with three israeli teenagers. again and again we have seen these incursions through these tunnels. 32 new tunnels found so far. three miles into israeli territory. one of the mazing things when you go into tunnels, you see not only how they are used for these attacks, but what they have in reserve in these tunnels. ropes, syringes, tranquilizers,
handcuffs, explosives, walls and walls of explosives. these were attempts to inflict mass casualty attacks on the civilian population. $100 million is approximately what was spent on these tunnels. at the expense, i might add of the palestinian people. that's 4,000 trucks. of equipment coming in over the border from israel with cement which was presumed to be used, hopefully, for schools or hospitals. th cement, with aggregate, with steel. instead used for the construction of these tunnels, tunneling under israel. less than 10 years ago, sloorl pulled out of gazz -- israel
pulled out of gaza. the strip was going to flourish without israel's control. that was what they were told, but it wasn't tsh-that's what we were told, but it wasn't supposed to be this way. it wasn't supposed to be a situation where hamas would take resources and plow it into terror day by day. today the gaza strip is a terrorist sanctuary on israel's borders. with sanctuaries within this sanctuary that we now know of 32 of these tunnels. beyond targeting israeli civilians with kidnapping and indiscriminate firing of rockets, hamas shows a callous disregard for the lives of the palestinians it ostensibly represents, and that's the purpose of this initiative here today. to call attention to the fact. and earlier this month the hamas spokesman appeared on television
and encouraged gaza residents to act as human shields. that's the responsibility they asked, as they are hidden down in these tunnels, as they are in these bunkers they ask their civilian population to go and make of themselves human shields in front of rocket launchers. the world can't let terrorists embed their forces among the civilian population using them as human shields without speaking out. this is a direct violation of international humanitarian law and the law of war. sacrificing the innocent in an effort to protect those engaged in terror from an israeli response. hamas is engaging in a crime of enormous proportions. perpetrated by those who were
deliberating hiding among civilians to protect thelfselves -- themselves. according to the geneva convention, the presence of the civilian population or individual civilians should not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations. in particular, in attempts to shield military objectives from attack or to shield favor or impede military operations. that's the geneva convention. a full-court press to discredit israel is on in the united nations. my question is, where are the defenders of international law in condemning hamas' use of human shields? i saw the report. there's no mention in there of the rockets being fired against israel. yes, this is a case where israel is using missile defense to protect its civilians. and hamas is using their
civilians to protect their missiles. it is a case where we have to recognize israel's right to defend its people by taking necessary and appropriate force to neutralize the threat posed by hamas. think about the recent discovery that israeli security sources unearthed. evidence that hamas was preparing to dispatch 200 terrorists via 10 tunnels towards six israeli communities with the goal of killing and kidnapping scores and scores of israelis on the jewish new year. if that was on our border with can if a da, how would we react? i urge all of my colleagues to support this resolution which takes a strong stand against hamas' crimes. i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from california reserves his time. the gentleman from new york.
mr. engel: thank you, mr. speaker. i rise in strong support of h.con.res. 107, condemning hamas' use of human shields in gaza. i yield myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. engel: mr. speaker, in recent weeks on our tv screens and computer monitors, in the pages of newspapers and magazines, we have seen the bloody and brutal results of war . we have heard the reports of so many lives lost, and no matter where you come from or what you believe, if you don't grieve over every innocent killed, you simply don't have a heart. what's missing from many of these stories, though, is why these blameless men, women, and children ended up in harm's way. when israel acts to defend itself, it does everything it can do to warn citizens, civilians, and minimize loss of life. israel warns palestinians ahead of time going so far as to say
specifically where an air strike is going to occur. what does hamas do on the other hand? it forces palestinians to stay in their homes. to stay in the line of fire. in the while hamas cowher their undertsh-cowhers in their underground tunnels. show the world of the outcome of the human shield strategy and blame israel. it's despicable and shameful. this resolution sends a clear message. the palestinian people of gaza should not have to take this anymore from hamas. it also makes clear that we support taking away hamas' ability to wage terror campaigns. as secretary kerry said on tuesday, and i quote, any process to resolve the crisis in gaza in a lasting and meaningful way must lead to the disarmament of hamas and all terrorist groups. now is the time for the united states to stand firm in our
support of israel. hamas has turkey shamefully to support them, and the rest of the world to turn a deaf ear to israel's pleas for security. the u.n. human rights council, which frankly is a joke, even voted to investigate israel for war crimes. with the united states casting the courageous lone dissenting vote. we know the security council has a muddled view of israeli-palestinian issues. given the barrage of rockets launched from civilian population centers, day in and day out, week in and week out, year in, year out falling on israeli civilian population centers, the council seems especially out of touch. we ought to mention something that's very important. this war started because hamas keeps attacking israel through the years, israeli civilian
population through the years, with its missiles. civilians. so for hamas to now fret over civilian casualties, which is the fault of them, in both gaza and israel, really just rings hollow. . if hamas were so concerned about human casualties, why does it target israeli civilian populations and why has it targeted those populations all these years? as israel's security is threatened and its reputation is smeared and frankly the media hasn't been helpful or even-handed, this morali quiff lensy -- moral equivalency is sometimes sickening. but the united states is the only one true friend that israel has. we must always stand up for israel's security and we must state plainly that israel is
not alone. i want to thank representative ros-lehtinen and representative deutch for their leadership on this issue. they have done very strong work in bringing to light hamas' deplorable crimes against the israeli and palestinian people. i also want to thank representatives steve israel and representative tom cole for sponsoring a similar resolution which the house passed just a few weeks ago. and i want to thank chairman royce who has worked diligently and hard to bring consensus to our committee and so we can speak with one voice, to let the israeli people know that when it comes to support of israel, support is strong and it's bipartisan from this congress and that's the way it should be. so only when the world rejects hamas and its tactics, when hamas can no longer rain terrorist rockets at israel and send the palestinian people to their deaths will peace between israelis and palestinians be possible. mr. speaker, i urge my colleagues to support this
resolution, and i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves the balance of his time. the gentleman from california. mr. royce: yes, mr. speaker, i yield five minutes to the gentlelady from florida, ms. ros-lehtinen, chair of the foreign affairs subcommittee on the middle east and north africa and author of this measure. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady from florida is recognized for five minutes. ms. ros-lehtinen: thank you, mr. speaker. i thank the chair of our committee, ed royce of california, as well as the ranking member, eliot engel, for their continued efforts in support of human rights and israel's right to defend herself. mr. speaker, this resolution condemning hamas' use of human shields in violation of international humanitarian law is an extremely important and timely measure given the current situation in israel and gaza. i want to first thank my colleague from south florida, ted deutch, for joining me in introducing this legislation. it was at an official fact
finding mission trip that we took to the middle east earlier this month where ted and i realized how important this measure was needed. while we were there, hamas had already begun to increase the frequency of indiscriminant rocket attacks against israel. prime minister netanyahu was compelled to respond but made it clear from the very beginning that the objective was to restore peace and security to the people of israel and that quiet would be met with quiet. but hamas would not relent and only increased its attack. while hamas was firing rockets at innocent israeli civilians, israel was taking every step imaginable to avoid palestinian civilian casualties. hamas' response was to intentionally place the palestinians in harm's way. it stores its rocket and weapons underneath the homes of
palestinians, and even in at least three -- three schools runned by the united nations relief and works agencies, unrwa, and it uses palestinian men, women and children as human shields in violation of international humanitarian law by placing its missile batteries in densely populated areas and near schools, near hospitals, near mosques. mr. speaker, the contrast between israel, a legitimate sovereign state, and hamas, a terrorist organization, could not be any clearer. israel values and goes to great lengths to protect human life. while hamas has no respect for human life and goes to great lengths to sacrifice anyone, including the palestinian people, in the name of its war against israel. israel has accepted repeated cease-fire offers. hamas has rejected them all.
and while israel seeks to fight terrorism, hamas is an internationally recognized terror organization that is being supported by countries like qatar in its war against our true democratic ally, israel. yet, it is israel that wrongfully faces international condemnation for exercising her right to protect her citizens and defend herself and gets singled out when the world should be condemning hamas. last week, mr. speaker, the u.n. human rights council, an constitution that has been leading the anti-israel charge for years now and has since lost any legitimacy that it might have had, passed a resolution to investigate what it calls war crimes and human rights violations by israel, not y hamas, and there was -- of the use of
palestinians as human shields. and of the people on the human rights council, you would think there would be some voices of reason to speak out against this obvious anti-israel bias. but the united states was the lone voice of dissent against this anti-israel resolution. our so-called european allies, they lacked the courage of their convictions, and they couldn't even muster the resolve to vote for or against the resolution. instead, they abstained. this is a disgrace and it is a shame. so if the united nations human rights council will not act and will not use its voice, that's why it is so important for the u.s. house of representatives to pass this resolution to not only stand up for the palestinian people who have been made pawns in hamas'
missions to destroy israel to their detriment but for israel, in the face of this bias anti-israel agenda. we must be the counterbalance, mr. speaker. we must send a message to the world that we will continue to stand alongside israel and that we will condemn hamas and its use of human shields. i urge my colleagues to support this resolution, to stand up for our ally israel and to stand up for human rights and american ideals and principles and, again, i thank the chairman, mr. royce, and the ranking member, mr. engel, as well as my south florida colleague, mr. deutch, for their help. and with that, mr. chairman, i yield back my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from california reserves the balance of his time. the gentleman from new york. mr. engel: mr. speaker, i yield three minutes to my good friend and colleague, the ranking member of the middle east subcommittee and co-author of this resolution, mr. deutch of florida. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from florida is recognized for three minutes. mr. deutch: thank you very
much. thank you, chairman royce. thank you to my friend, ranking member engel. and thanks especially to my friend, chairman ros-lehtinen, for her partnership in this effort of condemning the palestinians as use of human shields. i thank the committee staff, as well, for bringing this important resolution to the floor. chairman ros-lehtinen and i were in israel the night that the world learned the tranl inc. fate of the three israeli teens. we mourn with the families of -- and tens of thousands of others at their joint funeral, and we were there just days later when 16-year-old muhammed was brutally and tragically murdered. in the wake of these heartbreaking deaths, violence escalated when hamas began indiscriminantly launching rockets at israel with the sole purpose of causing terror and death.
israel responded. every civilian death is tragic, and we continue to mourn the loss of innocent lives on both sides of this conflict, but we cannot forget how this started and we cannot forget who is responsible. it is hamas that has chosen to launch 2,600 rockets at civilians. it is hamas that hides rockets and rocket launchers in schools, unrwa schools, and in mosques and even in hospitals, using the palestinian people as cover for their weapons stockpiles and their rocket launchers. it is hamas that chose to spend millions of dollars digging tunnels into israel to launch terrorist attacks and for theifying underground bunkers fortifying r -- underground bunkers for his terror. it is hamas that is responsible for the miserable condition of the palestinians in gaza even before this military engagement
started. as president clinton -- former president clinton said last week, and i quote, hamas' perfectly well aware of what would happen if they started raining rockets in israel. they fired 1,000 of them and they have a strategy designed to force israel to kill their own civilians so the rest of the world will condemn them. mr. speaker, while israel warns the residents of gaza of incoming attacks, via text messages and phone calls and leaflets, hamas spokesmen go on television to urge people to stay in their homes, to act at human shields. this is a direct violation of the geneva convention. let me be clear. the use of civilians as shields to protect military objectives is a violation of international law. it's time for responsible nations to condemn this behavior, to condemn the use of innocent civilians as human shields. passing house concurrent resolution 107 will not stop hamas from putting the lives of
their citizens at risk as human shields, but it will make clear that the u.s. house condemns the terrorists who want to destroy israel and murder israelis, the terrorist who is violate international law by using human shields, please, i ask my colleagues to support this important resolution. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from new york reserves the balance of his time. the gentleman from california. mr. royce: i'll continue to reserve, mr. speaker. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves the balance of his time. the gentleman from new york. mr. engel: thank you, mr. speaker. i yield myself, again, as much time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. engel: it's been said many times but i think we should say it again, israel uses its missiles to protect its citizens and hamas uses its citizens to protect its missiles. that says it all. that is just a disgrace and it's a fact. the united states must back israel in its quest for
security, and any cease-fire that is put forth must contain the total disarming of hamas and the total destruction of those tunnels, those death tunnels that hamas has been uilding to try to kill israeli civilians. these are concrete trucks that were allowed to be trucked in. concrete was allowed to be trucked in under the eyes of israel because they were told that the concrete was used or would be used to build schools and infrastructure. instead, the concrete was used to build tunnels to kill israelis. this really cannot be tolerated at all. that the so say again media reporting of what's really going on in gaza has been less than stellar. there are atrocities in syria,
but that seems to be yesterday's story, so while every death in gaza and in israel is something over which we breathe, there are more deaths in syria every single day in that buildy civil war than there have been in gaza. yet, you hear no mention of it on the news. all you do is have cameras focused on gaza. war is hell and nobody wants war, but a terrorist organization, like hamas, must be told that terrorism cannot prevail. israel's fight is not with the palestinian people. it's with hamas, a terrorist organization that denies israel's very right to exist, that wants to kill as many israelis and jews around the world and that wants to destroy the state of israel. that's why the united states and the european union have designated hamas as a terrorist organization. we need to put that in perspective.
a terrorist organization that uses its own people as human shields a not to ever be taken seriously. nor has the right to lecture anybody about the sanctity of human life. so in closing, let me say, again, that israel has the right to self-defense. hamas' use of human shields demonstrate how just how much they devalue human life. the palestinian people deserve better than hamas. the israeli people deserve better. i want to thank, again, my friend, ms. ros-lehtinen, and my friend, mr. deutch, for their hard work on this issue. i want to thank my friend, chairman royce, for his leadership on so many issues but on this issue as well. we agree, democrats and republicans agree, we stand by our ally israel and we condemn a terrorist organization, hamas, which uses its own people as human shields. thank you, mr. speaker.
i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the gentleman from california. mr. royce: thank you, mr. speaker. i yield myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. royce: but prior to that, if i might yield two minutes to the gentleman from florida, mr. yoho, he's a member of the house committee on foreign affairs and we'll yield two minutes to him. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from florida is recognized for two minutes. mr. yoho: thank you, mr. speaker. i appreciate it. this resolution, i rise in support of h.con. resolution 107. this resolution denounces the cowardly act of using civilians, women and children as human shields by hamas and any other terrorist organization in violation of nternational humanitarian law. as a member of the foreign affair committees, i was proud to work with congresswoman ros-lehtinen, chairman royce and ranking member mr. engel. it is my hope that this resolution sends a very clear
message to hamas that their abhorrent practices for using civilians as shields must stop. hamas has continued to fire rockets indiscriminately into israel from residential areas into gaza, as well as storing munitions near schools and hospitals. mr. speaker, what kind of human does this kind of thing? it's a coward. it's a person that does not value human life. since june of 2014, other 2,000 rockets have been fired at srael in response to the -- at israel. 234 response to the missile attacks, we have worked together with israel on projects like the iron dome. it's a missile defense system that's proved its worth time and time again, intercepting rockets bound for densely populated areas -- areas in israel. this resolution must pass to show our israeli ally ours commitment to them as well as to show hamas that their use of
human shields must stop. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back. the gentleman from california. mr. royce: i was in haifa in 2006 during the war between hezbollah and israel and while i was there, i was in haifa, rockets were raining down for 30 days. rockets rained down on that city. air sirens blaring during the day, it looked like a ghost town, it was very debilitating, as you can imagine. but what amazed me was the targeting of the civilian areas of that town. and the targeting of the hospitals. the dd -- the deliberate targeting of civilians. that was the goal. at one point, we had to go into a bunker when rockets were fired close to where we were. and the one takeaway i had from that was that out of that came
the iron dome. out of that, in a few short years, that system, the iron dome, which they were working on, went from the drawing board to deployment in battle and proved its mettle. and it proved its ability to shield israelis in the south from the hamas rocket threat more recently. congress, i think, can be proud of our role here in backing iron dome. which this resolution recognizes as part of this resolution. and the other part of this resolution, mr. speaker, i have to tell you, israel has more than the right to defend itself, it has the duty to protect its citizens. i saw what happened in haifa. over 600 people in that one trauma hospital i was in. and it is exercising that responsibility right now to protect its people because time
and again, day after day, these rockets continue to be fired from these rocket launchers. in hamas-held territory. no country would stand for the hamas terror organization's rockets and tunnels. remember, these tunnels come three miles into the border, three miles under israel, one of them right outside an israeli kindergarten. that is hamas. and of course hamas' whole reason for being, for any of you that have read its charter, is to attack israel and attack jews. this nihilistic terror organization works to kill the maximum number of israeli innocents while using its own population as human shields. yes, that is a double war crime. since the last conflict, hamas has improved on all aspects of
its operation, courtesy of iran, the same way iran supplied hezbollah, iran supplies hamas, and this could not have been done without the longer range missiles. the m-302's that iran has now transferred into the inventory of hamas so that jerusalem and tel aviv can be targets. earlier this month, my committee held a hearing exposing iran as the primary backer of hamas. through weapons, through funding, through missiles. imagine the increase in material support to hamas from iran if that government, if the ayatollah's regime is granted further sanctions relief. as part of nuclear negotiations. i ask all members to join me in condemning hamas on its despicable use of human shields and to continue to stand with
israel to face down the many shared threats that we face. thank you, mr. speaker. i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back. all time for debate has been yielded back. the question is will the house suspend the rules and con agree to concurrent resolution 107 as amended. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, 2/3 being in it affirmative, rules are suspended, the concurrent resolution is agreed to and without objection the motion to reconsider is laid on the table. the chair lays before the house an enrolled bill. the clerk: h.r. 4028, an act to amend the international religious freedom act of 1998 to include the desecration of cemeteries among the many forms of violations of the right to religious freedom.
the speaker pro tempore: for what purpose does the gentleman from florida seek recognition? >> i move to suspend the rules and pass the conference report to accompany h.r. 3230, the veterans' access to care through choice, accountability, and transparency act of 2014. the speaker pro tempore: the clerk will report the title of the bill. the clerk: h.r. 3230, an act making continuing appropriations during a government shutdown to provide pay and allowances to members of the reserve components of the armed forces who perform inactive duty training during such period. the speaker pro tempore: pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from florida, mr. miller, and the gentleman from maine, mr. michaud, each will control 20 minutes. the chair recognizes the gentleman from florida. mr. miller: i ask unanimous consent that all members have five legislative days to revise and extend their remarks. i yield myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: without objection. mr. miller: i rise in support of the conference report to acompmy -- accompany h.r. 3230.
general omar bradley, the former administrator of what is now the department of veterans' affairs once said of our work, we're dealing with veterans. not procedures. with their problems, not ours. we've come face to face with the problems of our -- problems our veterans routinely encounter and they are consider to believe say the least. as every american now knows, congressional oversight and whistleblower revelations have exposed widespread corruption, systemic delays in access and failures of accountability across our nation's second largest bureaucracy. thousands of veterans across this country have been left to wait, some for years, some in pain, and most disturbingly, some in caskets draped with an american flag. some while chronic or fatal conditionses werened until little hope -- worsened until little hope was left for the
health care they earned through honorable service to our nation. meanwhile, poor-performing v.a. leaders and employees continued to receive large bonuses, subject to little accountability for their many inadequacies. there's no doubt, mr. speaker, that the department of veterans' affairs as we know it today is in crisis. as a result, our veterans are suffering. the conference report we're considering this afternoon is the first step, the first step to alleviating their pain and paving the way for the failing v.a. health care system to experience much-needed structural and cultural reform. to immediately improve access to care for veteran patients, the conference report would require v.a. to authorize nonv.a. care to any eligible veteran who was unable to secure a timely appointment at a v.a. facility or who resides more than 40 miles from the nearest v.a. medical facility
with certain exceptions. eligible veterans would include those who were enrolled in the v.a. health care system as of august 1, 2014, or who are newly discharged combat veterans. it would further require v.a. to issue a veteran's choice card to eligible veterans to facile tit care provided by nonv.a. providers and provide $10 billion for the newly established veterans' choice fund to cover the cost of access to nonv.a. care under this bill. to lead the way for true reform in the long-term, the conference report would require a comprehensive assessment of v.a. care by an expert independent entity or entities and establishes congressional commission to care for -- on care charged with setting the future course for access to and quality of care throughout the entire v.a. health care system. to improve v.a.'s internal
capacity, provide timely and high quality care to our veterans, this report would also provide the department with -- with $5 billion to hire physicians and other clinical staff and to provide for certain critical fiscal infrastructure improvements. the conference re-- report would extend v.a.'s rural health care focused project, arch, for an additional two years. it would extend the pilot program to provide rehabilitation, quality of life and integration services to veterans with a traumatic brain injury for an diadecisional three years. it would authorize 27 medical facility leases across 18 states and puerto rico and make certain improvements to care provided to veterans who have experienced military sexual trauma and others. to advance genuine accountability for corrupt senior managers, it would reduce funding for bonuses available to v.a. employees by
$40 million each year through fiscal year 2024. it would authorize the secretary to fire or demote senior executive service employees in title 38 s.e.s. equivalent employees for poor performance or misconduct. poor performing employees disciplined under this authority would be provided an expedited limited appeal process but would be prohibited from receive page or bonuses or benefits nurg the appeal process this provision will give the secretary the tool he needs to expeditiously hold senior managers accountable for the types of willful misconduct and possibly criminal negligence we have seen during our investigations. the conference report would also require public colleges to provide in-state tuition to veterans and eligible dependents for the school to remain eligible to receive g.i. bill education payments. this provision closely mirrors
the bill that i offered h.r. 357, the g.i. bill tuition fairness act which passed the house earlier this year. the men and women who served this nation did not just defend the citizens of their home state. they defended the entire united states of america. the conference report would also include approximately $5 billion in offsets with additional incidental offsets expected to accrue over time as a result of increased third party collections for nonservice connected conditions and reduction in medicare payments as a result of increased youthly case of the -- utilization of the newly created choice program. the bill before us is one i'm proud of. be more importantly -- but more importantly, it is one i believe our nation's veterans can be proud of. it's not a blank check for a broken system. but an important first step down a long road toward true transformation. however, our work is far from over.
we all know that congressional oversight was crucial to bringing failures at v.a. to light and it will increase in the days and weeks and months ahead after passage of this bill. passage of the report will increase access to care and improve accountability with a desperately broken bureaucracy. however, the reform that is necessary to reforming the agency will require dedication for years to come. i would ask all my colleagues to join me in beginning that effort today. i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves. the gentleman from maine. mr. michaud: thank you, mr. speaker. i yield myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. michaud: i rise in strong support of the conference report to h.r. 3230, the veteran's access choice and accountability act of 2014. i'd like to thank chairman miller, senator sanders, senator byrne and other members of the conference committee.
even when it looked like it would not be possible to achieve a compromise and bring it to the house floor today, at the end of the day, we all worked together to make sure our national commitment to veterans is there. this compromise agreement can serve as a model on how congress look at serious problems facing our country and how to address them. there's been a long road getting here, the house veterans affairs committee under chairman miller's leadership has held over a does b oversight hearings in the past couple of months aloan. we have heard from veterans, their families, v.a. employees, veteran's service organizations, about what is and what isn't working within the department of veterans' affairs. the measure before us today is not a long-term solution to all of the v.a. problems, but it is n appropriate and well-crafted esponse to the immediate
threat of not being seen in a timely fashion. this bill also takes important steps to begin to address the systemic problems within the department of veterans affairs that has led to this crisis. too few doctors, inadequate infrastructure and a management culture that is asleep at the wheel. it holds those whom the nation's entrusted with our veterans' lives and well-being responsible for the outcomes. for the 12 years i've been on the veterans' affairs committee i have helped to ensure that veterans, especially those living in rural areas, have access to quality health care. i fought for the needs of veterans returning from the current conflict while not forgetting the sacrifices and the needs of veterans from previous conflicts. one of the successes that you heard from chairman miller earlier i'm most proud of is the project arts, the access received closer to home project
expands the opportunity for rural veterans to receive health care without a long drive to a v.a. facility many miles away. i'm pleased to see that the conference report extends and expands this important program. it is critical for the thousands of veterans who live in districts like mine. many veterans in my district would be forced to make nearly 600 miles roundtrip drive to the nearest v.a. facility if it weren't for arch. another important aspect of this bill not only deals with senior executives services but title 38 employees which covers about 80,000 at the v.a. it sets metrics and outcomes and accountability for those employees. this bill also will address the immediate problems of long waiting times for health care while beginning to strengthen the v.a. so we are not facing the same crisis next year or the year after.
but i would also like to remonday my colleagues that this bill -- remind my colleagues that this bill is only the first step. we must begin to talk about the innovative solutions that will truly modernize the department and better meet the needs of current and future veterans. far too often the good intentions underlying the law that we passed are stymied by an organizational structure that has originated back from the 1970's and 1980's. far too often the good intentions of the department of veterans affairs' employees meet the wall of bureaucratic indifference. far too often our veterans ask for help and there's no one there at the other end to answer that help. this is totally unacceptable, and it is why i believe we must begin the work of radically restructuring the department of veterans administration. we must restructure it to better assist our veterans, to
better live up to the promises we've made to them. we need to look at the fundamental business model. the processes, the organizations, the technology, the data and information and the work force capability. our work today is to pass this conference report and get it to the president's desk as quickly as possible so that we can fix the current crisis. the work for tomorrow is the work that i ask each and every one of my colleagues to continue working on to make sure that the department of veterans affairs evolve to a new, more veteran-centered department of veterans affairs. it's going to take a lot of work and a lot of oversight, as you heard the chairman mention earlier, and once again, i'd encourage my colleagues to pass this bill and i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves the balance of his time. the gentleman from florida. mr. miller: thank you very much, mr. speaker. it's my pleasure now to yield to a gentleman from colorado, a member of the conference committee, mr. lamborn, for two
minutes. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from colorado is recognized for two minutes. mr. lamborn: thank you, mr. speaker. i'd like to thank chairman jeff miller for his continued leadership as we work to provide our veterans with the care and benefits they have earned. keeping the promises that we have made to our veterans and their families is of utmost importance to me and all americans. this piece of legislation is a major step in the process of restoring veteran trust in the v.a. this bill will expand access to non-v.a. care, making wait times shorter and increase convenience. although this will ensure veterans who are currently on a waiting list will get the timely care they deserve, much more needs to be done. i am especially pleased that an independent congressional committee on care will be formed to look at the v.a. from the ground up. for lasting change to take place, the corrupt culture shown by some in the v.a. must be purged. it must be replaced with an ethics that puts the veterans
first. by authorizing the secretary of the v.a. to fire senior employees that are guilty of poor performance or misconduct, this bill ensures that newly confirmed secretary mcdonald will have more tools to hold individuals accountable for their actions. however, granting this authority will mean nothing if it isn't combined with the leadership required to always do the right things for our veterans. to his words, inaction, secretary mcdonald must make it clear from day one that individuals will be held accountable, whistleblowers will be protected and anyone responsible for poor performance, negligence or preventable deaths, even, will be held accountable. it has been an honor to serve with the chairman during this conference committee. i urge my colleagues to join me in supporting the v.a. conference report, and i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from florida reserves the balance of his time. the gentleman from maine. mr. michaud: thank you, mr. speaker. now i'd like to yield a minute and a half to the gentlewoman from nevada, ms. titus. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady from nevada is recognized for a minute and a half.
ms. titus: thank you. and i thank my friend for yielding. i thank mr. michaud and chairman miller for their leadership on this important bill. as a member of the house veterans' affairs committee, i've been working with my colleagues to ensure that veterans have access to the highest quality care in a timely fashion. this legislation before us takes important steps towards that goal. i'm especially pleased that the compromise includes three of my bills which ensure that, one, all of the mes -- victims of sexual assault get the care they need. and more residencies are going to be funded at v.a. hospitals in areas of the country that are underserved by doctors and private practice. our committee, i know, will continue to work in a bipartisan fashion with the new secretary to ensure that all veterans have access to the benefits and care that they have so bravely earned. today we are acting on behalf of a grateful nation to provide
our country's heroes the care they need and restore their trust in the v.a. so i urge my colleagues to support this conference report to the veterans' access choice and accountability act, and i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from maine reserves the balance of his time. the gentleman from florida. mr. miller: thank you, mr. speaker. it's now pleash to yield two minutes to the gentleman from tennessee, a veteran, a physician and also a member of the conference committee, dr. phil roe. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for two minutes. mr. roe: mr. speaker, it is a pleasure to stand before this body in support of the conference report, the first major step in providing timely, high-quality health care to the veterans who so selflessly served this great nation. as a physician, veteran and member of the veterans' affairs committee, it was an honor to have served on the conference committee. mr. speaker, a corrosive culture has been allowed to exist within the veterans affairs bureaucracy for far too long and to the dement crement
of -- detriment to our veterans. the most important thing this bill is to give veterans, who are experiencing long wait times, or who live more than 40 miles from the nearest v.a. facility, a choice. these veterans will now be able to get a veterans choice care which will allow them to seek care in the private sector. only by forcing the v.a. to compete, will we force a cultural change in how they serve veterans. i've met with many physicians in recent weeks and the desire to help our veterans is stronger than ever. hospitals and physicians alike are ready and willing to care for veterans addressing a crisis that was created by v.a. mismanagement. moving forward, this report creates a process by which we can make significant strides toward accountability biff giving the v.a. secretary the ability -- by giving the v.a. secretary the ability to fire senior executives for failing to do their jobs and penalties for knowingly falsifying information. this will improve educational
benefits for veterans and their independents. as founder of the house wounded care caucus, i'm pleased this bill includes an important pilot program to help veterans with traumatic brain injury for three more years. the negotiations were tough, but i know the final product will have a very positive impact on the lives of our veterans, and i'd like to thank the house and senate v.a. committee for all their late nights and hard work they put in toward this worthy goal, mr. speaker. and i applaud chairman miller and sanders for their leadership throughout this process, along with ranking member michaud and senator burr. and i urge all of my colleagues to support this report, and i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from florida reserves the balance of his time. the gentleman from maine. mr. michaud: thank you, mr. speaker. at this time i'd like to yield two minutes to the gentlewoman from arizona, mrs. kirkpatrick. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady from arizona is recognized for two minutes. mrs. kirkpatrick: thank you, mr. speaker. i urge all of my colleagues to support h.r. 3230. as a member of the conference
committee, i pushed for negotiations on this bill to continue because veterans have waited too long for the care they deserve. this bill reflects the comprehensive meaningful reforms that passed the senate and that i introduced as the companion bill in the house. this bill ensures that rural veterans who live too far from a veterans' medical facility and veterans who have waited too long for an appointment can see a provider closer to home. for the tribal veterans in my district, this bill strengthens the relationship between the veterans administration and the indian health services. this bill also ensures that the veterans administration can quickly hire more doctors, nurses and medical professionals. and this bill gives the veterans administration secretary the authority to hold v.a. employees accountable. our veterans deserve
world-class health care, and a v.a. that puts veterans first. i believe this bill provides the foundation to do just that. again, i urge all my colleagues to vote for this bill so it can be signed into law without delay. i yield back. thank you. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from maine remains the balance of his time. the gentleman from florida. mr. miller: thank you, mr. speaker. it's now a pleasure to yield to the gentleman from michigan, dr. benishek, two minutes. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from michigan is recognized for two minutes. mr. benishek: thank you, mr. speaker. i rise in strong support of the conference report to the veterans' access to care act. as a doctor who served at the v.a. hospital in iron mountain, michigan, for 20 years, i've seen firsthand how washington bureaucracy can keep doctors and nurses from taking care of veterans. on its most basic level, this is the sacred mission of the v.a. and the v.a. has failed. today we take an important step
toward reversing that failure. most urgently, our bill will allow veterans suffering long waits for care the option of -- to be seen by a local doctor at a private hospital. i believe every veteran should have a choice as to where they receive care, and this bill moves us closer to that goal. this triage measure is not the long-term solution. that's why our bill directs the v.a. to tap the best health care minds that we have in this country to go step by step through the system and write us a blueprint for a lean, smart 21st century v.a. our bill is not perfect, and the problems at the v.a. will not be solved overnight. however, this landmark effort is the best chance we've had in years to make fundamental changes to the way the v.a. operates. make no mistake, our true test comes next. we must continue to keep the pressure on the v.a. long after the headlines have faded and
the worst employees have been fired. because our veterans will still be there and they will still be -- deserve to be at the top of our priority list. as a father of a veteran myself, i'm committed to refusing to let this issue go. we will demand results, we will demand swift and full implementation of this legislation. anything short of that is not worthy of our veterans and is unacceptable. thank you, mr. speaker. i urge my colleagues to support the conference report and yield back the remainder of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from florida reserves the balance of his time. the gentleman from maine. mr. michaud: thank you, mr. speaker. now i'd like to yield two minutes and 35 seconds to the gentlewoman from florida, ms. brown. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady from florida is recognized for two minutes and 35 seconds. ms. brown: thank you, mr. speaker. as the most senior member of the house veterans' affairs committee, i strongly believe that the v.a. provides the best care for our veteran service
members from returning from protecting the freedom we hold most dear and i'm committed to v.a. continuing their critical mission of serving our veterans. v.a. has served the special needs of returning veterans for over 75 years and has expertise in their unique health care needs including trauma brain injury, posttraumatic stress sorder and a host of other veteran special injuries. my focus continues to be on ensuring that the v.a. retains the unique responsibility for health care of our veterans receive regardless of the providers. the bill includes critical language that i discussed with senator bernie sanders to ensure that v.a. has the final authority over the care that veterans receive whether at the v.a. or non-v.a. providers. we need to continue to work
with our veteran stakeholders to ensure that v.a. has the resources it needs to provide the care. i'm looking forward to working with the new v.a. secretary, and i want to thank the past secretaries. i worked with the secretary from the first one, jesse brown, to the present one, putting the v.a. first. and i know a lot of people that say, we've given the v.a. everything they need but, of course, many of us don't have institutional memory. i remember the first time the v.a. got the real budget they wanted in 2009 under president barack obama, when we had a democratic house and a democratic senate. so a lot of us talk the talk, walk the walk but don't really roll the roll. we've got to make sure, as we move forward, that we don't just talk about providing service, that we really provide service and we ensure that the veterans have the service that
the first president, george washington, promised the veterans and i do want to thank our chairperson, mr. miller, for his leadership and the way he has conducted our meetings and also our ranking member. i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady yields back the balance of her time. the gentleman from maine reserves the balance of his time the gentleman from florida. mr. miller: it's my pleasure to yield to mr. coffman of colorado, another member of the conference committee and a united states veteran. one minute and 35 seconds. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for one minute and 35 seconds. mr. coffman: i thank the gentleman for his dedicated work on behalf of veterans. as a marine corps combat veteran and chairman of the house veteran's affair subcommittee on oversight an investigations, i have spent the past year working side-by-side with the members of my subcommittee and with
chairman miller to investigate and uncover the largest scandal in the history of the department of veterans' affairs. i am proud that republicans and democrats were able to put aside their partisan differences, to focus on supporting our nation's war wars -- warriors with choice, accountability, and greater transparency. these reforms will allow veterans to vote with their feet. if they cannot get an appointment within a reasonable time frame at a v.a. facility. i'm also proud that we were able to include much-need ed -- much-needed reforms of -- on the treatment of victims of sexual assault in the military, the scourge of sexual assaults in the military and the rruption of covered up waiting lists at v.a. hospital are shameful acts and we must work together to confront them
head on. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time the gentleman from florida reserves. the gentleman from maine. mr. michaud: how much time do i have remaining? the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from maine has 10 minutes remain, the gentleman from florida has 6 1/2 minutes remaining. mr. michaud: thank you, mr. speaker. at this time i'd like to yield two minutes to the distinguished gentleman from maryland, mr. hoyer. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. hoyer: i congratulate mr. miller, the chairman of the committee, and mr. michaud, the ranking member, for working together to get this done. this bill is a result of a borne agreement. while i have some serious concerns about a number of provisions of which aisle speak, i'm supporting it because it assigns resources to help cut down waiting times for veterans to get the care they need and that we owe them. they -- that must be our number one goal. i remain deeply outraged as so
many of us do by what transpired in phoenix and other facilities where our wounded warriors were made to wait weeks, months, to get an appointment and receive treatment, including for serious post-deployment mental health issues. that is not acceptable. this is more than unacceptable, however. it is unconscionable. i think there's wide agreement on both sides of the aisle that any v.a. personnel who facilitated this wrongdoing to undermine veteran's health care must be held accountable. however, mr. speaker, i am concerned with provisions in this bill regarding the removal of senior executive personnel. while this bill does improve on the house version by adding a 21-day period for appeals, it still undermines civil service protections that have been in place for decades to ensure a merit service, not a politicized patronage service.
there are already strict rules in place that facilitate the swift removal of officials who do not perform their job responseably, as there should be. those protections strike the right balance between giving agencies the authority to remove personnel without trampling on the due process rights of s.e.s. employees that they immediate to do their job without fear of political reprisal. or arry -- or arbitrary removal. having said that, mr. speaker, this bill addresses major challenges at the v.a. it provides resources to ensure that our veterans can access health care at private facilities if they face a very long wait, or live in rural areas far from v.a. doctors. may i have 30 additional seconds? mr. michaud: i yield the gentleman 30 seconds. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. highway interk i thank the gentleman. it makes health care services more available and accessible to veterans through additional
resources for medical and other v.a. personnel. this, of course is not a perfect bill, but then again i don't think i've ever voted far perfect bill. buts that good bill that moves in the right direction. again i -- again, i congratulate mr. miller and mr. michaud on their important work on this important piece of legislation. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from maine reserves. the gentleman from florida. mr. miller: i yield two minutes to the gentlelady from indiana, an outstanding member of the full committee, many walorski. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady is recognized for two minutes. mrs. walorski: thank you, mr. speaker. to mr. chairman, ranking member michaud, on behalf of the thousands of veterans in my district and the millions around the country, thank you. to every conferee that serveden on this committee, thank you. i'm grateful to have been part of this process. the need for this legislation and for our conference committee to have worked together was great.
it has been an incredible experience. let's not forget in the past decade nearly 1,000 veterans have died as a result of substandard treatment from the department of veteran affairs and many more cases are under investigation. 50,000 new patients have waited at least 90 days for their first appointment at v.a. popts. v.a. staff have admitted to falsifying medical appointment dates to fit within the performance goal of 14 days. all these facts have been appalling. all of vuss constituent who was been directly impacted by this scandal. the need for the legislation is so timely today. i just came from the world war ii memorial and i thanked a veteran from chicago -- from the chicago and indiana area. i looked him in the eye and thanked him for serving our nation. he stood up out of his wheelchair and looked me in the eye and said, thank you for fighting for us. this is the first step toward real change at the v.a. today we stand together to help our nation's heroes.
we yes toyota our veterans to provide them with nothing but the best. however, echoing the chairman's comments, providing a financial boost to an agency that's repeatedly demonstrated awful management prackis to -- practices will not solve the problem. in the coming weeks and months, we must continue to stand together to ensure additional improvements are made to the v.a. i want to say thanks and urge my colleagues to vote and support this resolution. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from florida reserves. the gentleman from maine. mr. michaud: at this time i yield one minute to the jerusalem from texas, ms. jackson lee. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady is recognized for onemy. ms. jackson lee: i thank the gentleman very much, on behalf of the state that has one of the largest populations of veterans, including those in my congressional district, i say thank you. to the chairman and ranking member, thank you for allowing me to sit in on a hearing, thank you to the conferees, thank you for understanding that when our soldiers put on the uniform have any of us ever
had them question why? and therefore we should never question why are we not giving the best service that we can give to our veterans. i am grateful for the $5 billion, it allows us temporary flexibility, if you cannot getter is vess, you're aloud to go to civilian doctors. professionals that are going to be added with primary and specialty doctors, the housing the ptsd, sexual assault, all these are making a difference. in the name of the world war ii veterans i saw in normandy, in the name of curtis a veteran in my district who had an appointment in 2013 and never heard back from the hospital, in their name, i believe this is a most important opportunity. we should vote for this and be able to serve our veterans and say you served and we serve you. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from maine reserves. the gentleman from florida. mr. miller: i yield a minute and a half to the vice chairman of the full committee a member
of the conference committee, mr. bilirakis. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for one and a half minutes. mr. bilirakis: i appreciate so very much. i rise in support of v.a. conference report on h.r. 3230. the veteran's access choice and accountability access act of 2014 is a positive first step toward reforming the v.a. which provides among other things relief to veterans who have waited excessively to receive the health care they have earned at a level, a quality, they deserve, mr. speaker. this bill also includes real accountability provisions, allowing the v.a. secretary to fire or demote senior executive service employees for lack of performance and management negligence. this reform package is focused around ensuring the veteran has timely access to quality care and includes language to authorize 27 major medical facility leases including one n pasco county, florida, in my
congressional district. the veterans in my area will soon have the ability to seek treatments at a consolidated clipicic, thanks to chairman mill e, as opposed to having to travel between the main clipic and four other satellite facilities. authorizing these leases will improve the timeliness for veterans to receive care in this county and in 17 other states as well as puerto rico. throughout the nation, as i said. passage of this bill is the beginning, not the end. obviously much work needs to be done. however, immediate action needs to be take ton give veterans all -- to get veterans off waiting lists and ensure they receive care within the v.a. health system or in the private sector if they so choose. the veterans should have the chase. we need to get this done for our veterans. thank you very much, mr. speaker. i yield back the blaps of my time. i urge passage of the by the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from florida
reserves. the gentleman from maine. mr. michaud: i yield one minute to the gentleman from california, mr. takano. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. takano: i rise to support the conference report and want to thank chairman miller for the gracious way he's conducted the committee hearings and thank ranking member michaud for his hard work. principally, i am very pleased that this conference report also includes the inclusion of 1,500 funded graduate medical school education slots at veteran's facilities around this country. it was a good thing we aproved non-v.a. -- access to non-v.a. care for those service members, those veterans who have been on waiting lists for far too long. but that would not be satisfactory to those areas of the country that are experiencing physician shortages. this is a huge, huge accomplishment for congress that is so partisan to approve these 1,500 funded g.m.e.'s and
i urge my colleagues to support the conference report. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from maine reserves. the gentleman from florida. mr. miller: i yield to the gentleman from kansas, mr. huelskamp, 1:40. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for one and a half minutes. mr. huelskamp: i thank the chairman for his work on this bill and as a member the veterans afairs committee, i want to take a moment and chair what this means for my kansas veterans. sin coming to congress i've heard cousins -- dozens of stories from kansas veterans about troubles with the v.a. they share how they're required to travel hundreds of miles for simple medical tests or renew prescriptions, driving past dozens of local hospitals and doctors offices with the ability to meet their needs. many drive halfway across the state to colorado or nebraska or texas to get their health care needs. yesterday my office had to step
in and help a world war ii veteran, he the nearest hospital was 200 mills away, they said you have to come to the hospital and renew your prescriptions. i was able to contact the v.a. and ensure he could get his care in his local community. you shouldn't have to call your congressman to get the care you deserve. with this bill, hundreds of kansas veterans will be able to use project arch, call their local doctor and get their health care needs met. veterans should have the choice to schedule their appointments, pick their own doctors in their own communities. when our veterans come back from serving and defending our country and return to communities across the united states, most don't ask for much, but i want our veterans to know that i believe you deserve the best, not just a mediocre, scandal-plagued culture we have seen at the current v.a. this bill is common sense, it's a first accept toward giving veterans real choice and
accountability. as this law is implemented, i remain committed to continuing to ask the hard questions and working to return the v.a. to its true mission to serve our veterans. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from florida reserves. the gentleman from maine, the gentleman from maine has 5 1/2 minutes, the gentleman from florida has 2 maines remaining. mr. michaud: i yield one minute to the gentleman from west irginia, mr. rahall. mr. rahall: i thank the chairman and ranking member for bringing this bill to us today. in yund served communities why staffing shortages have caused delays in appointments, this conference report will help provide critical investments so the v.a. can hire the doctors they need to serve our veterans. it will help reduce the backlog in v.a. construction and maintenance projects. it will help ensure that veterans unable to get to a medical apointment at a v.a. facility will be able to get the care they need from a non-v.a. provider.
this legislation can do a lot of good, but it is only a first step. the bill must be implemented, regulations issued and scarce moneys allocated to make sure that the veterans get the care they need this bill promised. we must not forget the rural, underserved areas where people are elderly and travel is costly and burdensome. we must not lose sight of the facilities and health providers in those areas. i ask the v.a. to remember rural veterans as they implement this bill and i aim does so. it i ask colleagues to support it and i yield back. miller merle i yield to the gentleman from nebraska, a person who always has veterans on his mind, one minute. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from nebraska is recognized for one minute. mr. terry: this bill will help the veterans that were damaged, workers that were willing to allow veterans to die, denying
them care to get a bonus. leave no doubt this is a patch and the v.a. requires a complete overhaul. for example, seven years ago, the v.a. hospital in omaha was deemed to be in such poor condition it needed to be replace asap. in seven years since, the project has fallen down the list, few projects have been completed. the v.a. is just not able to manage major project. the entire nebraska delegation wrote then-secretary shinseki over a year ago to meet and discuss the lack of progress and possible alternatives. but he refused to meet with our delegation, even after a request. the evidence of total dysfunction of the -- this evidence of total dysfunction of this v.a. in washington, d.c. my hope is that the new v.a. secretary will be more accommodating to listen to the nebraska delegation whose sole goal is to simply help our
veterans receive the appropriate care in a building that meets at least today's standards. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from florida reserves the balance of his time. the gentleman from maine. mr. michaud: thank you. i yield one minute to the gentleman from florida, mr. barber. the speaker pro tempore: -- mr. michaud: thank you. i yield one minute to the gentleman from arizona, mr. barber. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for one minute. mr. barber: thank you, mr. speaker. i'm proud and honored to support the veterans' access to care through choice, accountability and transparency act of 2014, and to commend representative miller and representative michaud for their leadership in getting this bill to us in this -- and this conference report to us today. as a son of a father of world war ii, i think it's congress take action to get the quality our veterans deserve. i'm here to fight for the veterans in southern arizona, which i represent 75,000, and those across this country. i have bean pushing for better
access for veterans since coming to congress a little over two years ago. this is becoming more urgent given the tragedy that we've uncovered in phoenix and potentially across our nation. to play games with our veterans to get bonuses is despicable and this bill, i hope, will move us in correcting those actions. one of the first bills i introduced was to ensure that veterans could get health care they need in their communities and this bill, i'm glad to say, includes that provision. i commend the leader -- the chairman and the ranking member for their work, and i urge all my colleagues to vote yes for this important bill for our veterans. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from maine. mr. michaud: i yield one minute to the gentleman from texas, mr. gallego. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from texas is recognized for one minute. mr. gallego: thank you, mr. speaker. i would like to rise in support of the conference committee
report asking all of our members to support it and i congratulate the chairman, with whom i had a rather spirited conversation on this floor, as well as the ranking member on accomplishing the first step, i think and it is the first step but it is a significant step. i'm particularly proud that two of the provisions that i came to this floor that i argued for, being additional facilities, including an expansion of the facility in san antonio, as well as additional support personnel and medical personnel, health care personnel are included in this bill. but this bill includes so much more. a graduate medical education component, in addition, educational opportunities for spouses and families. so this is an incredible first step. i, again, want to underscore my thanks to the chairman, to the ranking member, to the members of the conference committee. and this is a great first step putting us in the right direction towards finally treating our veterans with the respect that they not only deserve but they have earned over the period of their
service. thank you, mr. speaker, and i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from maine. mr. michaud: how much time do i have remaining? the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from maine has 2 1/2 minutes remaining. the gentleman from florida has one minute remaining. mr. michaud: i yield one minute to the gentleman from california, mr. peters. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from california is recognized for one minute. mr. peters: thank you for yielding. mr. speaker, i'm proud to state my agreement for the veterans' access to care through choice, accountability and transparency act of 2014 and thank chairman miller and ranking member michaud for bringing this resolution. i asked for a motion to instruct to ensure that vets on the g.i. bill could pay lower in-state college tuition. i'm happy that that provision has been included. enacting the measures in this bill will go a long way towards improving veterans' health care. as those noted, there is more work to be done. the more than 200,000 veterans that live in san diego county deserve access to the med kir care and benefits that america has promised them and they have earned. it's my hope that it will give
new hope to the vets at the way they've been treated by the v.a. after all they sacrificed. and today we send a bipartisan message to them, america keeps its promises to our veterans. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from maine. mr. michaud: i have no further speakers. i'm ready to close. thank you, mr. speaker. i'd urge my colleagues to support the conference report to h.r. 3230. this is a very important bill. it's a bill that we've worked long and hard over the last several months. it's one that took into considerations a lot of the concerns that members from both sides, both bodies had and we came together with this bill. i do want to thank chairman miller for his hard work and dedication to our veterans and their families. we would not be here today if it wasn't his determination and having strong oversight hearings over the last couple
of months within our committee. i also want to thank staff on both sides, majority and minority staff. i know they put in thousands of hours for oversight hearings, to work on this conference report, to get us where we are today. we could not have done it without our dedicated staff on both sides of the aisle going through this document, making sure that every member's concerns were addressed in this document. with that i want to once again thank the chairman for your hard work on this effort and look forward to the vote on this. i encourage all of my colleagues to support this bill. and with that i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the gentleman from florida. mr. miller: thank you, mr. speaker. i, too, would like to say thank you to the ranking member of the full house committee, mr. michaud, for his tenacity and what he has done to move this conference report along. i also want to say thank you to the ranking member, mr. burr, in the senate and to senator sanders, because as we continue
to negotiate through, there never was a willingness to quit by either side. i'm grateful to the 24 other conference committee members who worked with us, for their input, their ideas and their willingness to embrace this compromise. it was brought forth by diligent, focused effort and a willingness on all sides to put aside differences of opinion and ideology and focus not only our disagreements but how best we could all help our veterans. while not perfect, this is an example of all the good work we can accomplish when we work together and, remember, it is the veteran who is sacred, not the v.a. and with that i yield back my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back his time. all time for debate has expired. the question is will the house suspend the rules and adopt the conference report on h.r. 3230. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, 2/3 having responded in the affirmative -- mr. miller: mr. speaker, on
that i request the yeas and nays. the speaker pro tempore: the yeas and nays are requested. all those in favor of taking this vote by the yeas and nays will rise and remain standing until counted. a sufficient number having arisen, the yeas and nays are ordered. pursuant to clause 8 of rule 20, further proceedings on this question will be postponed. pursuant to clause 8 of rule 20, proceedings will resume on questions previously postponed. votes will be taken in the following order -- ordering the previous question on house resolution 694, adopting house resolution 694, if ordered, and suspending the rules and adopting the conference report on h.r. 3230. the first electronic vote will be conducted as a 15-minute vote. remaining electronic votes will be conducted as five-minute votes. the unfinished business is the vote on ordering the previous question on house resolution 694, on which the yeas and nays are ordered. the clerk will report the title of the resolution. the clerk: house calendar number 131, house resolution 694, resolution providing for consideration of the resolution house resolution 676, providing for authority to initiate
litigation for actions by the president or other executive branch officials inconsistent with their duties under the constitution of the united states. providing for consideration of the bill h.r. 935, to amend the federal insecticide, fungicide and rodenticide act to clarify congressional intent regarding the regulation of the use of pesticides in or near navigable waters and for other purposes and providing for proceedings during the period from august 1, 2014, through september 5, 2014. the speaker pro tempore: the question is on ordering the previous question. members will record their votes by electronic device. this is a 15-minute vote. [captioning made possible by the national captioning institute, inc., in cooperation with the united states house of representatives. any use of the closed-captioned coverage of the house proceedings for political or commercial purposes is expressly prohibited by the u.s. house of representatives.]