Source: United States House of Representatives – Representative Antonio Delgado (NY-19)
House Passes Rep. Delgado’s Legislation to Support Local Veteran Cemeteries and Improve Benefits for Women and Minority Veterans
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the House of Representatives voted unanimously to pass a legislative package with two of U.S. Representative Antonio Delgado’s (NY-19) bills to support veterans. The package, H.R. 7105, incorporates the text of Rep. Delgado’s bipartisan Fairness for Local Veteran Cemeteries Act to ensure county-run veteran cemeteries in states without state-run veteran cemeteries are eligible for federal funding. This bipartisan legislation also includes Rep. Delgado’s Improving Benefits for Underserved Veterans Act, which directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to publish a report on veteran’s benefits disaggregated by sex and minority group member status. The package, including Rep. Delgado’s bills, passed the Senate on December 9, 2020, and awaits President Trump’s signature. Below is a video and transcript of Congressman Delgado’s remarks on the House Floor.
Click here to watch Rep. Delgado’s remarks on the House Floor.
“Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 7105. This legislation incorporates two bills I was proud to introduce. First, my bipartisan Fairness for Local Veteran Cemeteries Act – an easy, bipartisan fix to allow localities to honor our nation’s veterans.
“As the law is currently written, only state-run veteran cemeteries are eligible for the National Cemetery Administration’s Veteran Cemetery Grants. This cripples counties in states that don’t have state-operated veterans’ cemeteries – including New York, Florida, Alaska, and Oregon, where veteran cemeteries are operated by counties, or county equivalents. Our bill will ensure counties and localities can use federal funds to help run veterans’ cemeteries.
“H.R. 7105 also incorporates my Improving Benefits for Underserved Veterans Act, which would require the VA to publish a report on veterans’ benefits disaggregating by sex and minority group member status—an important step leveling the playing field for women and minority veterans.
“The men and women of the Armed Services dedicated their lives to defending our nation and it’s values. I am proud to support this legislation that helps our nation provide better care for our veterans and protect their final resting place. I yield back.”
Rep. Delgado, along with Reps. Don Young, (AK-AL), Elise Stefanik (NY-21), and Brian Mast (FL-18), introduced the Fairness for Local Veteran Cemeteries Act after a meeting with his bipartisan, locally-based Veteran Advisory Committee. During the meeting Captain Steve Massee, who, at the time, was serving as Director of the Ulster County Veterans Service Agency, highlighted a technical error in our law that prevents Ulster County and other counties across New York from accessing much-needed federal funding for its veteran cemeteries. New York, Florida, Alaska, and Oregon are the only four states whose veteran cemeteries are run by individual counties or county-equivalents. Rep. Delgado’s bill would ensure that counties in these states are made eligible for grants to cover the maintenance and operation costs of veteran cemeteries. In June 2020, Rep. Delgado testified in support of the Fairness for Local Veteran Cemeteries Act before the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.
Following visits to facilities serving women veterans in upstate New York, Rep. Delgado introduced the Improving Benefits for Underserved Veterans Act, which would direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to publish a report on veterans’ benefits disaggregated by sex and minority group member status. This report would provide the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Congress with the necessary data to better educate those veterans on their entitled benefits and address any disparities in coverage and benefit usage amongst those groups. On October 22, 2019, the Congressman spoke before the House Veterans’ Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs about his legislation, the Improving Benefits for Underserved Veterans Act.