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Source: United States House of Representatives – Julia Brownley (D-CA)

Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Julia Brownley (D-Westlake Village) introduced two bills to ensure that the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) would receive automatic continuing appropriations in the event of future government shutdowns.

“My bills are intended to highlight the impact a government shutdown can have on some of our most vulnerable and most deserving Americans: seniors and veterans,” said Congresswoman Brownley. “Our job as legislators is to protect, fight for, and improve the lives of our constituents, not make their lives more difficult. Let’s do that job.”

The Social Security Protection Act of 2019

While Social Security benefits are generally protected during government shutdowns, during past shutdowns Americans have been unable to file applications for benefits, obtain Social Security cards, or have their benefits and earnings verified for purposes such as employment. A lapse in appropriations can also impact states’ ability to perform these functions, thus preventing citizens from having their benefit applications received and processed. In the past, government shutdowns have also led to delays in scheduling hearings of appeals of SSA benefit decisions and receiving decisions on such appeals, as well as delays in processing of claims. These delays can significantly harm our most vulnerable citizens, including seniors and those with disabilities.

This bill would address any lapses in funding SSA by automatically continuing appropriations so that there is no lapse in discretionary funding that supports hardworking government employees who support these critical programs.

Read the text of the bill here.

The Veterans Affairs Protection Act of 2019

While some portions of the VA budget are not impacted by government shutdowns, during a shutdown VA is unable to process new veterans claims or reduce its backlog of claims. Veterans are also unable to obtain important information about their benefits because education call centers, VA hotlines, and regional office outreach activities are suspended. During shutdowns, many veterans enrolled in the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment program are also unable to access important counseling services. Additionally, many Transition Assistance Program (TAP) workshops, which assist military servicemembers in transitioning to civilian life and provide information on how to access federal government benefits, would be postponed.

This bill would address any lapses in funding VA by automatically continuing appropriations so that there is no lapse in discretionary funding that supports critical benefits and services for veterans.

Read the text of the bill here.

Issues: 116th Congress, Seniors’ Issues, Veterans’ Affairs