Pa.’s Fab Four sponsor bill aimed at improving services for women veterans | Thursday Morning Coffee

June 13, 2019 7:19 am

Pa’s ‘Fab Four’ (l-r) U.S. Reps. Chrissy Houlahan, D-6th District; Susan Wild, D-7th District; Mary Gay Scanlon, D-5th District; and Madeleine Dean, D-4th District on the House floor. (Rep. Dean/Facebook)

Good Thursday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

Four freshmen members of Congress from the Philadelphia suburbs are continuing to make their presence felt on Capitol Hill, rolling out legislation Wednesday aimed at connecting women veterans with the services they need.

U.S. Reps. Madeleine Dean, D-4th District; Mary Gay Scanlon, D-5th District; Chrissy Houlahan, D-6th District, and Susan Wid, D-7th District, announced their joint sponsorship of legislation requiring the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs to work with non-governmental organizations to help women veterans access child care and medical care, and to help them deal with such legal issues as child support, and eviction and foreclosure proceedings.

“There is no question that the government has a duty and responsibility to take care of our veterans when they return home from sacrificing for our country — but women veterans face unique challenges that the Department of Veterans Affairs isn’t currently equipped to help them with,” Wild, of Allentown,  the bill’s main sponsor, said in a statement.

“Women veterans’ issues are veterans issues. It’s as simple as that,”Houlahan, an Air Force veteran, said in a statement.

Houlahan, the chair and founder of the U.S. House’s Servicewomen and Women Veterans Caucus, added that Congress needs to do everything it can “to make sure we’re supporting our women veterans and the unique challenges they face. I’m proud to join Rep. Wild on the ‘Improving Legal Services for Female Veterans Act’ as we fight for a system that better cares for the women who have bravely served our country.”

Dean, of Montgomery County, observed in a statement that, “female veterans have changed the face of the armed forces. After serving with dedication and valor, they have a right to expect our full support — and that’s what this bill provides. Whether it’s assistance with child care or legal aid to prevent eviction and foreclosure, we intend to stand by our vets — just as they have stood by us,”

Scanlon, of Delaware County, noted that, “despite their vital service and contributions to our national security, women veterans are often overlooked or worse, discriminated against.

“This bill is an important step in ensuring all of our veterans have access to the benefits they deserve. The Improving Legal Services for Women Veterans Act is an important step in removing the barriers to justice that many women veterans face,” Dean said.

The Morning Call, of Allentown, citing data from Wild’s office, reported Wednesday that “more than 345,000 women have deployed since Sept. 11, 2001. As women have taken on new roles in the military, they also have been seeking care and support services from the VA in growing numbers.”

The legislation would “would require the VA to partner with at least one NGO to provide legal services, specifically to women veterans. This partnership would focus on the 10 highest unmet needs as described in the recent Community Homelessness Assessment, Local Education and Networking Group for Veterans (CHALENG for Veterans) survey,” Wild’s office said.

“Our women veterans put their lives on the line to defend our nation, and we need to ensure that VA is providing them with the comprehensive services they need as they return to civilian life,” U.S. Rep. Julia Brownley, D-Calif., the chair of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee’s Women Veterans Task Force, said in a statement.

“This important bill will allow VA to do just that by partnering with organizations to provide women veterans with the legal resources to navigate court systems on a local, state, and federal level. As chairwoman of the Women Veterans Task Force, I am proud to support this bill, and look forward to continuing to work with Congresswoman Wild to see this bill signed into law,” she said.


Image via Flickr Commons

Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., wants kids to drink more milk in the school cafeteria.  But not just any milk, mind you. Nope, the Lehigh Valley lawmaker wants kids to be able to drink whole and 2 percent milk.

Because right now, schools can only serve them skim and 1 percent milk, so they might as well be living in Sweden or something under conditions like that.

“Every parent knows milk does a body good,” Toomey said in a statement. “In 2010, the Obama administration and Congress erred in prohibiting whole milk and two percent from being served in schools. This decision has led to a sharp decline in consumption across the country, which means kids are not getting essential nutrients milk provides. This measure fixes that error and permits schools to sell whole and 2 percent milk once again.”

To do it, Toomey wants the Agriculture Department to lift the saturated fat cap on school lunches — because, after all, what could possibly go wrong? — so that schools can offer the full- and lotta-fat versions of milk.

The measure has the support of the Pa. Farm Bureau and the Pa. Dairymen’s Association, which has drained all the fun out of Farm Show milkshakes by offering them year ’round.

And, saints preserve us, the statement from Toomey’s office announcing this measure came with the tongue in cheek (we hope) boast that it would “make school lunches great again.”

We’re going to need a bill increasing Maalox subsidies at this rate …

(Capital-Star file)

The state Senate handed a long-sought win to Pennsylvania’s nurse practitioners on Wednesday, approving its version of legislation that would expand scope of practice responsibilities for the very busy healthcare professionals you almost always see instead of your family doctor these days.

The Senate voted 44-6 to approve the legislation sponsored by Sen. Camera Bartolotta, R-Washington. It now goes to the House where there’s a companion version making the rounds. This piece by The Capital-Star’s Stephen Caruso is an excellent primer on the issue.

Gov. Tom Wolf in Philadelphia on Wednesday (Capital-Star photo by John L. Micek)

Our Stuff:

As was widely expected, Gov. Tom Wolf says he plans to veto a nearly $100 million expansion of the state’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit, which funds scholarships to private and religious schools. That sets up a budgetary showdown with the Republican-controlled state House, where Speaker Mike Turzai is the bill’s author.

Elizabeth Hardison has the details on a showdown between advocates for public schools and charter schools (Yes, we know, charter schools are public schools – but don’t get them started).

U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, R-16th District, has said the push for Medicare for All is taking the U.S. into a ‘scary place,’ Washington Bureau Chief Robin Bravender reports.

On our Commentary Page, Andy Carter, of the Pa. Hospital and Healthsystem Association, has some thoughts about what lawmakers should — and shouldn’t — do with the state’s Tobacco Settlement Fund this budget season.

And advocates for Pennsylvania’s disabled residents would prefer it if lawmakers didn’t mess around with the state’s General Assistance program this budget season.

WikiMedia Commons

The Inky’s Maria Panaritis
 has the details on the seething anger in Coatesville  over the looming shutdown of a Sikorsky helicopter factory — and the efforts being made to save it.
A local man is lobbying for the Scottish pronunciation of Pittsburgh — for some reason, The Post-Gazette reports.
The FBI arrested more than 30 people in a drug sting across western Pennsylvania, The Tribune-Review reports.
The Berks County Sheriff’s Office is looking into a Reading connection in the shooting of ex-Red Sox star David OrtizThe Morning Call reports.

Here’s your #Philadelphia Instagram of the Day:

Bucks and Montgomery counties are the big spots for Pa. Turnpike toll scofflaws, WHYY-FM reports.
The PA Post hung out with Dauphin County voters who took some new voting machines for a test drive as a deadline to get for counties to purchase them before the 2020 election closes in.
Good news: The Delaware River in Philly is cleaner than it used to be. Bad news (maybe): you still can’t swim in it. BillyPenn has the story.
A pair of pro-Trump super PACs are teaming up for a voter registration push in Pa. ahead of 2020, PoliticsPa reports.
Stateline explains how Big Tech’s housing crunch is filling up small towns. 
The White House has claimed executive privilege as it withholds information on the Census citizenship question, Roll Call reports.

Gov. Tom Wolf 
heads to the White House (that won’t be awkward) for a 12:30 p.m. roundtable on workforce development.

What Goes On (Nakedly Political Edition).
5:30 p.m.: 
Reception for Rep. Mike Schlossberg
5:30 p.m.: Reception for Sen. John Gordner
5:30 p.m.: Reception for Sen. Mike Regan
Ride the circuit, and give at the max, and you’re out a mere $4,500 today.

Heavy Rotation.
Here’s something a little dance-y and trance-y for your Thursday. It’s ‘Mas Que Nada,’ from Worldwide Groove Corporation.

Thursday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link.
Ladies and gentlemen, meet your Stanley Cup-winning St. Louis Blues, who beat Boston in 4-1 in Game 7 on Wednesday, to take home Lord Stanley’s famous trophy for the first time in franchise history.

And now you’re up to date. 

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.