Rounds Opposes Continuing Resolution To Fund Federal Government Through December 22, 2017

 

U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.)

December 7, 2017

 WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) issued the following statement after voting no on the Continuing Resolution to fund the federal government through December 22, 2017:

“The hasn’t worked in more than four decades. I have been a vocal critic of the current system, which largely rubber-stamps federal spending with very little debate or discussion. This year, working within this broken system, we gave negotiators extra time to work out a compromise on spending. Now we are one day from their extended deadline and yet no closer to a deal than they were three months ago. So they are asking for more time to negotiate, with a new deadline just before the holidays, hoping it will add pressure for Members to accept conditions they may otherwise disagree with. This is not good policy.

“A number of us have worked on proposals to modify our current budget ‘process’ – a term I use loosely – so that we can actually do the work we were sent here to do: make informed policy decisions and make certain the federal government is being a responsible steward of taxpayer dollars. Yet Congress continues this pattern of passing short-term, stopgap spending bills.

“I cannot, in good conscience, lend my support to this continuing resolution that merely continues federal spending and whose lone policy change could actually end up hurting South Dakota families. If we are ever to get our spending under control, eliminate wasteful programs and provide much-needed stability for our military, we must reject the status quo.

“This practice will not change until more of us send the message that we must either repair this broken system or we get our work done on time. The American people expect no less.

“As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I am concerned about the impact continuing resolutions have on military readiness. Military leaders have repeatedly warned our committee of the dangers that these short-term, stopgap spending bills have on their ability to adequately train, equip and maintain the force. In particular, under continuing resolutions, the Defense Department is restricted from starting new programs which is deeply concerning in today’s rapidly-changing threat environment. An example is the mounting cyber threat to our armed forces and our civilian critical infrastructure. If we are to adequately recover readiness levels that were lost over the last eight years as well as modernize our armed forces in this increasingly dangerous and complex world, we must give them the funding stability and certainty that continuing resolutions fail to provide.”

Thank You Veterans

By U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.)
November 3, 2017

The men and women who wear the uniform of the United States make incredible sacrifices for us, and every year on November 11 we pay tribute to them and all they have done to defend our freedoms. Veterans Day is a reminder to all of us to thank those who have bravely answered the call to serve.

As a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I have been working on proposals to improve the quality of life for South Dakota veterans. Our committee has had a productive year, and is looking forward to making even more reforms to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in the future. We were happy to see the president sign the Veterans Educational Assistance Act into law in August, after it passed out of the Senate with strong bipartisan support. This bill makes much-needed updates to Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits, especially for veterans wanting to pursue an education once they enter civilian life.

It included a few measures that I introduced, one of which is a provision to add all Purple Heart recipients—regardless of length of time spent on active duty—to the list of eligible veterans who can access full Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits.  Another included provision will allow for more flexibility in transferring Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to family members of deceased service members. The Veterans Educational Assistance Act will allow more veterans and their surviving family members to pursue educational opportunities to set them up for good-paying careers in a competitive job market.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), under Secretary David Shulkin, has been working to fix the problems plaguing the agency over the past years. While there is still work to be done to improve veteran care, Secretary Shulkin has been committed to the cause and is working to streamline the agency he leads. Recently, the VA proposed its CARE proposal—their vision of the future program to provide care in the community for veterans. I look forward to working with the VA and my colleagues on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee to improve care in the community for veterans.

Also this year, the VA announced it would comply with the Emergency Care Fairness Act (ECFA). This is a huge victory for the nearly 600,000 veterans who have been waiting for the VA to follow through on its legal obligations to pay for their emergency room costs at non-VA facilities. Last year, I spoke with an elderly South Dakota veteran who fell down in his home in the middle of the night. His wife called 911 and when the ambulance came to get him, he asked to be brought to a VA facility so he wouldn’t have to pay the costly emergency room fees out of his own pocket. He was told that his condition required him to be sent to a non-VA hospital. This veteran was faced with thousands of dollars in medical fees, simply because he wasn’t close enough to a VA facility with the needed medical services. We have a moral obligation, and in this case a legal one, to take proper care of our veterans during and after their service to our country. I was happy that the VA made this long-overdue decision, and I look forward to the department finalizing its rules to comply with this law.

On this Veterans Day, we thank our veterans and their families, we remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice, and we continue doing what we can to improve the lives of the men and women who bravely served our country. The freedoms we enjoy today are a direct result of the sacrifices made by our veterans and their families.