This Forum is Closed
March 31, 2020, 02:30:39 pm
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
News: GGF now has a permanent home:
  Home Help Search Links Staff List Login Register  

IRAQ : daily stuff here please

Pages: [1] 2 3 4   Go Down
Author Topic: IRAQ : daily stuff here please  (Read 18908 times)
Hero Member
Offline Offline

Posts: 549

View Profile
« on: August 07, 2010, 06:42:18 am »

Iraq snapshot - August 5, 2010

The Common Ills

Thursday, August 5, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee considers bills and amendments, governmental proxy weigh in to note their distaste for WikiLeaks, military and veterans suicides continue at an alarming rate, and more.
Today in the US, the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee held a mark up hearing on various bills.  Senator Daniel Akaka is the Chair of the Committee, Senator Richard Burr is the Ranking Member of the minority party.  Chair Akaka opened the hearing declaring, "Now that we have a quorum of nine, I invite a motion to proceed to the agenda items and according to tradition we'll vote on the agenda items and then as long as five members remain present including one member of the minority amendments will be in order."  Senator Jay Rockefeller made the motion to proceed. After it was unamiously approved, Chair Akaka noted the importance of the process and that any amendments to the bills would result in his seeking additional input from all the stakeholders in the system.  Ranking Member Richard Burr spoke out against the tuition stipend in the Post-9/11 GI Bill which some people find -- his terms" "unweildy, confusing and unpredictable."  He didn't state it but there are some who find it unfair.  (There are also some veterans who  have no problem with it.)  Kat will, as usual, cover a unique remark by Burr and he had one today so check her site. Ava's going to blog at Trina's site tonight to note Senator Scott Brown.

For an overview, we'll note that Chair Daniel Akaka's office issued the following release on the hearing today:
WASHINGTON, D.C. Today the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, chaired by Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii), approved comprehensive legislation to help veterans find jobs, simplify and improve the Post-9/11 GI Bill, get disabled veterans accurate and timely compensation, and make various improvements to VA health care.


"We must never forget that the care and benefits veterans have earned is a cost of war, and must be treated as such.  I am pleased with the bipartisan input that has produced these bills, and I will work with my colleagues to move them forward during this session of Congress," said Akaka.  Chairman Akaka's full opening statement is available here.

The Committee approved the following bills:


S. 3234, Veteran Employment Assistance Act of 2010 (Committee Print, as amended).  To improve employment, training, and placement services furnished to veterans, especially those serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, and for other purposes.


S. 3447, Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Improvements Act of 2010 (Committee Print).  To amend title 38, United States Code, to improve educational assistance for those who served in the Armed Forces after September 11, 2001, and for other purposes.


S. 3517, Claims Processing Improvement Act of 2010 (Committee Print, as amended).  To amend title 38, United States Code, to improve the processing of claims for disability compensation filed with the Department of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes.


S. 3325, Veterans Telehealth and other Care Improvements Act of 2010 (Committee Print, as amended).  To improve the quality of health care provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs, to increase access to health care and benefits provided by the Department, to authorize major medical facility construction projects of the Department, and for other purposes.


S. 3107, Veterans' Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2010.  To amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for an increase, effective December 1, 2010, in the rates of compensation for veterans with service-connected disabilities and the rates of dependency and indemnity compensation for the survivors of certain disabled veterans, and for other purposes.


S. 3609.  A bill to extend the temporary authority for the performance of medical disability examinations by contract physicians for the Department of Veterans Affairs.


An original bill -- S. ____ (Committee Print, as amended).  To amend title 38, United States Code, to improve Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance and Veterans' Group Life Insurance and to modify the provision of compensation and pension to surviving spouses of veterans in the months of the deaths of the veterans, and for other purposes.


The bills approved today will be reported to the full Senate for consideration.  For a copy of today's agenda, testimony and webcast, visit

Kawika Riley

Communications Director and Legislative Assistant

U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs

Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii), Chairman   

S. 3234, the Veterans Employment Assistance Act of 2010 had an amendment attached to it by Burr.  Akaka noted he wasn't sure he could support it.  Rockefeller noted his opposition to the Burris amendment and Senator Sherrod Brown introduced a new amendment on behalf of himself, Senators Patty Murray, Rockefeller, Bernie Sanders, Senator Roland Burris and Senator Arlen Specter regarding VA employees collective bargaining abilities.  We'll note this portion of exchange.
Chair Daniel Akaka: Is there any objection to making this a separate bill?
Senator Jay Rockefeller: Mr. Chairman, when you say a separate bill, does that mean it would not be -- couldn't be accepted as an amendment?
Chair Daniel Akaka: Well I feel that this is an important question that you raise here. We're only trying to skip a procedural role call vote.  What I'm asking is if we can agree to debate this amendment individually?  And of course, you will have an opportunity to speak and propose an amendment to this.
Senator Jay Rockefeller: Mr. Chairman, I don't mean to be anymore obnoxious than I usually am, but I thought that's what mark-ups were for?
Chair Daniel Akaka: Yes, Senator Rockefeller.  We would like to separate this so that we can handle it separately and not be --
Senator Sherrod Brown: Mr. Chairman, I understand Senator Rockefeller's at least partial reservation.  I know he's a co-sponsor of the amendment.  Does the stand-alone -- I understand the stand-alone would make its chances of becoming a law greater then if it's part of a bill that there may be some objections to pay-fors on the floor and all of that. There won't be -- I assume there won't be those kind of objections on this.  I'll do whatever the Chairman wants.
Chair Daniel Akaka: Senator?
Senator Jon Tester: Chairman, I support it as an amendment or a stand-alone bill so I ask unamious consent to be added to it as a co-sponsor. Secondly, if it increases the possibility of passage as a stand-alone, I support that. If it increases the passage of an amendment, I would support that. So as a co-sponsor of the bill I will go with whatever expedites it the quickest.
Chair Daniel Akaka: Any other comments?

Senator Jay Rockefeller: Mr. Chairman --
Chair Daniel Akaka: Mr. Rockefeller.
Senator Jay Rockefeller: -- I would withdraw my comments. It is my understanding that this would make it easier to make it become law because of negotiations with the House.
Chair Daniel Akaka: Are there any objections to separating this bill? . . . So no objections, it will be separated. Let me further say that there is merit to this amendment of Senator Brown's I agree that employees should be allowed to grieve as has been mentioned over correct compensation to which they are entitled. So let me call on any further comments.  Senator Burr?
Ranking Member Richard Burr: Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, I understand the intent behind the amendment.  But I'm worried that we are flying blind here without having the views of the administration and others on how this amendment might impact providing care to veterans. As you know, Title 38, employees can bargain over everything except matters concerning (1) the professional conduct or competence, (2) peer review or (3) employee compensation. Senator Brown's amendment would make all compensation matters except basic rates of pay open to collective bargaining.  Here are my concerns.  The law granting only certain collective bargaining rights to VA employees has not been amended in 20 years.  Doing so without views and without an impact assessment concerns me greatly.  In this Congress, and in the last Congress, we had bills proposing to expand collective bargaining rights, both the prior administration and the current one strongly objected arguing patient care would suffer. I understand your amendment is narrower in scope. But I'm still concerned that it would have unintended consequences on care.  Here's a brief list of items under your amendment which would be open to collective bargaining: market pay, performace pay, premium pay, on-call pay, [. . .] special salary rates, requirement and retention and bonuses and nurse locality pay. Are we prepared to say that we understand how extending the ability to collective bargaining over these matters will effect operations of the VA health care system?  What about the cost associated with doing this?  What effect does this have on our veterans health care? Do we know any of the answers to those questions? Again, I truly believe we're legislating without all the facts. Therefore, I would urge my colleagues to oppose this amendment and to wait until we have an opportunity to have some of the answers to these questions.
Chair Daniel Akaka:  Senator Brown, did you --
Senator Sherrod Brown: Yes.  Let me give you an example of what -why this amendment matters. A nurse in Buffalo worked all weekend to deliver H1N1 vaccines to veterans.  It wasn't her normal shift, she should have been entitled by contract to 25% additional pay.  She had stepped forward for work that weekend because she wanted veterans to have access to flu shots and they worked during the week.  She stepped forward to assist those workers on the weekend. On her paycheck, it didn't reflect the premium pay she was entitled to. She asked her union to help out but was told she couldn't grieve this issue through the union. Now that speaks pretty clearly that this is amendment is narrow and it doesn't make any changes -- It changes the compensation exclusion in the law. It doesn't make changes to the other two exclusions: peer review and direct patient care. It has no impact -- absolutely no impact -- on management's right to determine the best medical procedures or practices for the patient.
And it continued.  And we're noting it because half the hearing was spent on this. Was there really a need, for example, for Akaka's motives to be questioned?  Did anyone think the Chair was secretly plotting to torpedo the proposal?  Part of the exchange was give-and-take, fine.  Part of it was just time wasted.
A roll call vote was called with Senators Rockefeller, Murray, Bernie Sanders (by proxy), Brown, Jim Webb, (by proxy), Tester, Mark Begich, Burris, Arlen Specter (by proxy) and Chair Akaka voting yes; Burr, Johnny Iaskson, Roger Wicker (by proxy), Mike Johanns (by proxy), Scott Brown and Lindsey Graham (by proxy) voted no.  In other words, the vote was strictly on party lines.
We'll come back to the topic of veterans in a moment.  Switching to today's violence in Iraq . . .
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bombing which wounded one police officer.  Reuters notes a Ramadi car bombing in which 1 person was killed and three were wounded.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 people shot dead (eight more wounded) at a Baghdad currency exchange, a Wednesday night home invasion in which 1 police officer 'His wife and a guest" were shot dead, 1 police officer shot dead Wednesday night on the streets of Baghdad and an attack on a Mosul checkpoint today in which 1 assailant was killed.  Reuters
Report Spam   Logged

Pages: [1] 2 3 4   Go Up
Jump to:  

Powered by EzPortal
Bookmark this site! | Upgrade This Forum
Free SMF Hosting - Create your own Forum

Powered by SMF | SMF © 2016, Simple Machines
Privacy Policy
Page created in 0.116 seconds with 15 queries.