WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) delivered floor remarks regarding how the VA continues to fail the American people.
To watch Senator Blackburn’s speech, click below or here.
You can read the transcript below or in the Congressional Record.
Mr. President, I would ask unanimous consent that the
Senate proceed to executive session to consider the following
nominations en bloc: Calendar Nos. 151, 152, 153, and 154; that those
nominations be confirmed en bloc; that the motions to reconsider be
considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or
debate; that no further motions be in order to any of the nominations;
and that the President be immediately notified of the Senate's action
and the Senate then resume legislative session.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
The Senator from Tennessee is recognized.
Mrs. BLACKBURN. Mr. President, I reserve the right to object, and I
rise to object to this unanimous consent request.
The VA, for years, has made promises that they have year after year
failed to meet. For years, veterans and their family members have
called my office, whether I was in the State senate or over in the
House or here in the Senate. They are distressed by the lack of service
they receive from the VA. My caseworkers would work tirelessly with
these constituents, only to end up frustrated by a very unresponsive
VA. This is unacceptable. It has become the culture of the VA, and this
is something that has to change.
Now, for weeks, the committee has been asking for feedback on
legislative proposals which have the potential to affect the workflow
and the capacity of the VA. The VA has been silent on this even though
we have asked for their views and have asked them to weigh in. The
reason we have asked them for this is the VA has a backlog of over
180,000 cases. Their wait times this year have continued to escalate.
They are not going down.
So, yesterday, I had a call with Secretary McDonough expressing my
concerns with the lack of feedback that the committee has received on
what is shaping up to be the most consequential legislative effort in
the veterans space in an entire generation. The formal response that I
received today was incomplete, but it contained a promise that they
would have more fulsome feedback by July 30.
I will continue to keep my hold on these pending VA nominees until I
receive the official views on the COST of War Act, on the toxic
exposures bills. We owe our veterans. We owe it to them to get this
right. Therefore, I object to the unanimous consent request, and I will
continue my hold on these nominees.