July 28 2017

NED Meets Chairman of HVAC to Discuss Veterans Issues

House Passes GI Bill Reform

FRA Opposes Financial Institutions Forced Arbitration 



NED Meets Chairman of HVAC to Discuss Veterans Issues

FRA's National Executive Director (NED) Thomas Snee recently met with Rep. Phil Roe (Tenn.), Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, to discuss FRA's Legislative Agenda. Director of Legislative Programs John Davis and Veterans' Services Officer Chris Slawinski also attended the meeting. NED Snee congratulated the Chairman for the House passing of the GI Bill reform (see story below). As well as thanked the Chairman for having a HVAC subcommittee hearing earlier in the year on the "Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act" (H.R.299) that would allow "Blue Water" veterans who served off the coast of Vietnam to be compensated for service connected disabilities related to their exposure to the Agent Orange herbicide. Dr. Roe offered to have a committee vote on the Blue Water Navy bill if it could be amended to round down veteran's monthly benefits to the nearest dollar. FRA wants to know your thoughts on this trade-off. Please take the one-question survey by clicking here

Snee also expressed his concern and the Association's opposition to the administration's request to eliminate the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Individual Unemployability benefits for veterans, once they start collecting Social Security benefits at age 62. The program awards benefits at 100 percent for veterans who cannot find work due to their service-connected disability. NED expressed the need to expand the VA Caregiver program to all catastrophically disabled veterans. Currently the program only applies to veterans disabled after September 11, 2001. Members are urged to use the FRA Action Center  on these and other issues.

House Passes GI Bill Reform

The House unanimously passed (405-0) major reform of the Post 9/11 GI Bill program (H.R.3218) this week. Major provisions of the bill include:

• Eliminating the 15 year time limit for using education benefits,

• Abolishing exemption for GI Bill credit for Reserve Component members called to active duty  under specified circumstances,

• Providing beneficiaries will not have to pay back tuition paid to attend schools that close or lose accreditation, and

• Awarding benefits to Purple Heart recipients without them being required to serve 36 months of active duty.  

The bill now goes to the Senate for further consideration.  Members can use the FRA Action Center to support these improvements.

FRA Opposes Financial Institutions Forced Arbitration 

FRA signed onto The Military Coalition (TMC) letter of support for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's (CFPB) final rule on arbitration agreements. The proposed rule addresses the widespread harm of forced arbitration by preserving the ability of service members and consumers banding together to seek relief through the civil justice system when financial institutions have broken the law. 

Forced arbitration is a system wherein service members' claims against a corporation are funneled into a rigged, secretive system in which all the rules, including the choice of the arbitrator, are picked by the corporation. Forced arbitration clauses include a provision banning the rights of consumers to ban together to hold a corporation accountable.

Our service members protect our nation against both foreign and domestic threats. The sacrifices they and their families make in order to serve are compelling reasons alone to ensure they are not only shielded from predatory financial practices and unscrupulous lenders, but are also able to use our civil justice system if and when violations arise.  

In related news the House recently passed the "Financial CHOICE Act" (H.R.10), which seeks to dramatically reshape the regulation of banking and other financial activities. This legislation includes a number of provisions weakening the CFPB and its Office of Service Members Affairs.  

The bill now goes to the Senate for further consideration. Members can use the FRA Action Center located on our website to ask their Senators to oppose this legislation.

If you would like to hear a recorded version of NewsBytes, dial 1-800-FRA-1924 (ext. 112)

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