Wenstrup’s bipartisan bill aligning oversight of VA benefits programs passes House

The U.S. House of Representatives on May 21 passed the bipartisan Veterans’ Education, Transition, and Opportunity Prioritization Plan (VET OPP) Act of 2019 sponsored by U.S. Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH).

“I thank my colleagues for their overwhelming support of this legislation and urge its swift passage in the Senate,” Rep. Wenstrup said on Tuesday following approval of H.R. 2045.

Rep. Wenstrup introduced H.R. 2045 on April 3 with cosponsor U.S. Rep. Mike Levin (D-CA) to establish the Economic Opportunity and Transition Administration, which would be overseen by a presidentially appointed undersecretary tasked with realigning transition, education and employment programs at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

“As an Army reservist, I know how important it is that we support our warfighters from the day they enlist to the day they begin their civilian career and beyond,” said Rep. Wenstrup. “The VET OPP Act will put additional focus and oversight on education and transition programs that support our veterans returning home.”

According to the text of the bill, the primary function of the Veterans Economic Opportunity and Transition Administration would be oversight of the VA programs that provide assistance related to economic opportunity to veterans and their dependents and survivors.

Currently, the Veterans Benefit Administration (VBA) handles all VA benefits provided to veterans outside of healthcare and cemetery services, according to information from Rep. Wenstrup’s office. However, the majority of staffing and resources have been directed toward administering disability compensation and pension claims, in turn minimizing the attention paid to other VBA benefits, such as vocational rehabilitation and home loans, among others.

The identical measure, S. 1003, was introduced U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH).

The Senate received H.R. 2045 for consideration on Tuesday and is expected to refer it to the U.S. Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, which is already reviewing S. 1003.