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Luttrell deals with border, veteran issues

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morgan luttrell portraitSpecial to the News-Times

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In October, Rep. Morgan Luttrell introduced the Review Every Veterans Claim Act and the Veteran Appeals Decision Clarity Act.

HR 5890 would prohibit the VA from denying a claim based on the sole reason that a veteran failed to appear for a VA examination that VA scheduled in conjunction with a claim for VA benefits, and HR 5891 would allow veterans to make an informed decision on whether to file a supplemental claim after receiving an unfavorable VA Board of Veterans’ Appeals (Board) decision on their claim for VA benefits, thus ensuring that this step of the appeals process is an effective means of ending the appeals process hamster wheel.

Both pieces of legislation were passed through full committee markup in December and now await final passage in the House.

“Our veterans deserve the highest quality of care, making it critical to address the various claims issues within the VA,” Luttrell said. “The two bipartisan bills I introduced will prevent the VA from denying claims for trivial reasons and provide additional options for veterans filing supplemental claims.”

This month, Luttrell introduced the Mark Our Place Act. The legislation would amend current law to allow family members, Veterans Service Organizations, or cemetery administrators to request the VA provide a headstone for Medal of Honor recipients, regardless of their date of death. Currently, this is only available to Medal of Honor recipients that served after 1917.

“We should not put a limited time frame on recognizing Medal of Honor recipients,” Luttrell said. “The Mark Our Place Act will remove unnecessary red tape prohibiting the VA from providing headstones with Medal of Honor markers to veterans buried in private cemeteries. These veterans have risked everything to protect our freedoms, and honoring their service and sacrifice should be timeless.”

Following a VA employee posting an antisemitic video online, Luttrell led his colleagues in a letter to VA Secretary Dennis McDonough requesting an immediate update on the investigation and any disciplinary actions taken.

National Security and Defense

America faces unprecedented threats from China and ongoing threats from Russia, Iran, North Korea, and terrorist organizations. All of the country’s adversaries are aligned in their desire to end American dominance. Threats from these adversaries are constantly evolving. To stay ahead of these threats, DoD comes to Congress each year requesting critical new authorities and changes to existing law, known as the National Defense Authorization Act.

Luttrell was named 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, Luttrell worked to resolve the bicameral differences in the NDAA for FY24 and ensure a robust legislative package makes certain our nation is ready to fight.

The 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.

Luttrell also had several provisions included in the House-passed legislation, including support for PTSD treatments, improvements on cybersecurity infrastructure and AI based cyber threat detection, and support for funding Texas’ military installations.

“I know how important a well-equipped military force is to protect our country,” he said. “As a member of the House Armed Services Committee and an NDAA conferee, I am proud of the work we did with the 2024 NDAA to boost defense spending to provide much-needed funding for our military and national security, as our nation faces unprecedented threats from around the globe.”

Addressing the Border Crisis

Luttrell cosponsored legislation to prohibit a remain-in-Texas policy for illegal aliens who cross the border. The Biden administration is reportedly seeking to implement policies that would force migrants to remain in Texas while awaiting asylum screening. This bill would prohibit Secretary Mayorkas from implementing or enforcing this policy.

Luttrell also sent a letter to Texas Gov. Greg Abbot and Attorney General Ken Paxton addressing major concerns about Colony Ridge in Liberty County.

Luttrell signed onto a letter to the Biden Administration requesting information regarding the decision to restart border barrier construction — but only in Starr County — calling into question the real motives behind the Administration’s decision.

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