Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-Florida) delivered this week’s Republican Address and talked about what the GOP was doing to improve the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
Bilirakis was Tuesday’s KVML “Newsmaker of the Day”. Here are his words:
“Hello. My name is Gus Bilirakis. I serve as Vice-Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee. And I represent the people of Florida’s 12th Congressional District.
Today, on behalf of my constituents and behalf of all Republicans, I would like to deliver a message directly to America’s veterans, our true American heroes:
America is what she is because of you. We are free because of you. You have borne the battle, and we have vowed to take care of you and yours.
I only wish that your government always lived up to this promise. It has been nearly two years since VA Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned amid a series of scandals. At the time, the president said—and I quote—“the number one priority is making sure that problems get fixed.”
But problems have not been fixed, and it’s not clear whether it’s a priority for this administration.
Despite receiving more funding, the VA is still taking too long to process claims. Wait times are actually worse.
Despite receiving more authority to clean up the bureaucracy, the VA has held almost no one accountable for manipulating wait times. Meanwhile, some of the same people responsible for these problems received bonuses as if nothing happened. That’s unacceptable as far as I’m concerned.
To you, these are life and death issues. But too often at the VA, it is business as usual.
We cannot accept that. That’s why, in recent months, the House and Senate have been working on reforms to boost accountability and improve care. Just last week, the House passed legislation—bipartisan legislation, by the way—to address the drug addiction problem that is so prevalent among our veterans.
And this week, the House passed legislation that funds the VA. In it, we have used our constitutional authority to hold the VA accountable. That means making the VA meet requirements for improving electronic health records. It means adding hundreds of new employees to tackle claims appeals. And it means prohibiting all VA Senior Executive Service Managers from receiving bonuses.
Because we can’t throw money at the problem all the time, ok? It won’t go away just doing that. We need real and meaningful reforms at the VA.
And we need President Obama to keep his word to you, and make it his top priority to fix the problems at the VA.
We will not rest until he does.
That’s the least we can do.
Thank you for listening, and thank you for your service to this great country”
The “Newsmaker of the Day” is heard every weekday morning on AM 1450 and FM 102.7 KVML at 6:45, 7:45 and 8:45 AM.