Special to the News-Times
On July 14, the House of Representatives passed the Fiscal Year 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
The House-passed FY24 NDAA includes a 5.2 percent pay raise for service members; prohibits funding for Critical Race Theory in the military; continues the prohibition on adverse action on any service member that refuses or refused the COVID vaccine while beginning a path back to service; and overall boosts defense spending to provide much-needed funding for our military and national security, as our nation faces unprecedented threats from around the globe.
Rep. Morgan Luttrell had several provisions included in the House-passed legislation, including funding for counternarcotics activities within the Department of Defense, support for PTSD treatments, and improvements on cybersecurity infrastructure and AI based cyber threat detection.
In September, Luttrell was named by Speaker Kevin McCarthy as a House Veterans’ Affairs Committee representative conferee to the NDAA Conference Committee.
As part of the Conference Committee, made up of Senators and Representatives, Congressman Luttrell will work to resolve the bicameral differences in the NDAA for FY24 and ensure a robust legislative package makes certain our nation is ready to fight.
In September, the House of Representatives passed Luttrell’s Veterans Benefits Improvement Act with bipartisan support. The Veterans Benefits Improvement Act will make improvements to the requirement that the Secretary publish disability benefit questionnaire (DBQ) forms on the VA’s website for use by a veteran’s private provider.
It also includes a report on improving access to travel reimbursement pay for veterans living abroad who must attend a disability exam. Additionally, this bill will improve communication regarding the scheduling of disability exams between contractors, veterans, and the veteran’s accredited representative. It now heads to the Senate for consideration.
“As a veteran myself, I know firsthand how cumbersome the disability claims process can be and it is past time to modernize these processes,” Luttrell said. “I am proud to see my bill pass through the House today with bipartisan support. This legislation will meet the needs of those who have proudly served our country by minimizing Veterans Affairs backlogs, delays, and unnecessary procedural burdens. I will continue to work towards solutions to make vital improvements in the lives of our veterans and their families.”
Luttrell also had an amendment included in the House-passed the Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2024. The amendment would provide funding for a psychedelic clinical trial authorized in the House version of the FY24 NDAA.
These treatments are desperately needed by our service members and veterans who are facing Traumatic Brain Injuries, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, major depressive disorder, treatment-resistant depression and other combat-related injuries.
Luttrell spoke on the House floor in support of his amendment, as well as joined Fox and Friends to discuss the importance of these emerging therapies.
Luttrell led a bipartisan letter to United States Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra expressing concern over the lack of effort to address Traumatic Brain Injury and advocating for HHS to establish a National Traumatic Brain Injury Task Force to transform the treatment and care of TBI patients.
Lastly, Luttrell joined the For Country Caucus, a bipartisan group of military veterans in the U.S. House of Representatives. Founded in 2019, the For Country Caucus works to find strong policy solutions that support the U.S. Armed Forces and American veterans.
“As a Navy veteran, I understand and appreciate the importance of serving our country — it’s why I came to Washington, D.C. The For Country Caucus has a proven record of delivering veteran and national security wins on behalf of the American people,” said Congressman Luttrell. “My fellow veterans in Congress understand the mission — the same one we had in uniform — to come together to strengthen our national security and do right by our brothers and sisters in arms. I look forward to having this additional pathway to ensure veterans and service members receive every bit of support they need and deserve.”
Addressing the border crisis
Luttrell introduced legislation to require the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to take necessary steps when placing an unaccompanied alien child with a potential sponsor inside the United States, especially as recent reports show HHS has been unable to contact 85,000 children in the past two years.
Further, the Biden Administration’s refusal to secure our southern border has resulted in vulnerable migrant children being exploited by the cartels and transnational criminal organizations. More than 370,000 unaccompanied children have come to our southern border unlawfully under President Biden and just over 152,000 children were encountered at our southern border in the previous fiscal year.
A study from the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women estimated that 60 percent of unaccompanied migrant children are caught by cartels and exploited through child pornography and drug trafficking.
“Unaccompanied migrant children are crossing our border, and the Biden Administration’s failed policies have done absolutely nothing to protect them. Instead, these children are released with no follow-up and are being exploited by cartels, resulting in forced labor, sex trafficking, and abuse,” Luttrell said. “This cannot be swept under the rug. It is crucial that proper and thorough vetting is implemented at HHS so vulnerable children are placed with responsible adults. Everyone is suffering because of President Biden’s border crisis, and it cannot continue.”
Last month, the House opened a formal impeachment inquiry into whether President Biden has engaged in impeachable offenses under the U.S. Constitution.
Prior to Speaker McCarthy’s announcement, House committees (Oversight & Accountability, Judiciary, and Ways & Means) were investigating potential misconduct as part of their constitutional oversight and legislative duties to consider, among other things, whether changes to our nation’s laws might be needed. That work will continue, but now this investigation can rely upon the broadest scope of Congressional power. With this enhanced authority, it will be more difficult for the Biden Administration to stonewall efforts to find the truth.
“I support the impeachment inquiry into President Biden over allegations of his abuse of power and corruption,” Luttrell said. “While the impeachment process was weaponized during the Trump Administration, House Republican leadership has made this inquiry in order to gather hard line evidence that cannot be refuted. This is the proper next step to rooting out corruption and serious wrongdoing by President Biden that has justifiably concerned Americans across the country. I am committed to ensuring we uncover the truth and provide transparency and accountability to the American people.”
August work period
Over the month of August, Congressman Luttrell traveled throughout his district, meeting with constituents and hearing feedback on how best to continue representing his constituents.
Luttrell spoke at the Montgomery Chamber of Commerce, visited with residents of Park Manor of Conroe, walked in the third annual Overdose Awareness Walkathon, met with Entergy, received updates on the automobile industry, enjoyed coffee with constituents in Livingston, hosted a CISA cybersecurity conference, discussed future innovation and infrastructure with Huntsville Memorial Hospital, visited Ruby Cattle Company’s ranch, held a defense contractors roundtable, visited with WG Jones State Forest, and more.