Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Introducing the 112th Congress’ Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee

Former Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee (SVAC) Chairman Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) has decided to step down in order to serve as Chairman of the Indian Services Committee, but he will remain a Committee member. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) is the new Chairwoman. Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) continues as the Ranking Member.

Chairwoman Murray, the first woman to serve on the SVAC, represents the 670,000 veterans of Washington, and her father served in World War II. Some of the issues she has focused on include ensuring implementation of the Caregivers Act of 2010, enhancing quality of care and access for veterans diagnosed with Traumatic Brain Injury and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and attending to wounded warrior and female veteran issues. In addition, Murray serves on the Senate Appropriations subcommittees on Defense and Military Construction & Veterans Affairs. ROA has worked with the senator on employment and education issues.

SVAC Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.)
Ranking Member Burr, whose state has the highest population of military spouses, has introduced several bills in support of spouses and families and joined the Military Family Caucus. He also helped pass a provision for the Post-9/11 GI Bill that allows transferability of benefits. Additionally, he serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Unlike the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, the SVAC does not have subcommittees.

The membership of the SVAC remains largely the same. Three senators no longer on the Committee include Roland Burris (D-Ill.), Arlen Specter (D-Penn.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). New members include Sens. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and John Boozman (R-Ark.).

While Moran and Boozman are newly-elected senators, Moran has served on the HVAC and subcommittees on Economic Opportunity and Health, and Boozman, who replaced 2010’s Minuteman of the Year awardee Blanche Lincoln, has served on the HVAC and was the Ranking Member of the Economic Opportunity subcommittee. While the Reserve and Guard community lost a strong advocate in Lincoln, Boozman has a history of supporting veterans and has worked with ROA and The Military Coalition in the past.

Continuing members for the majority include Democratic Sens. John D. Rockefeller, IV (W.V.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Jim Webb (Va.), Jon Tester (Mont.), and Mark Begich (Ak.). On the minority side, continuing members include Republican Sens. Johnny Isakson (Ga.), Roger Wicker (Miss.), Mike Johanns (Neb.), and Scott Brown (Mass.). Finally, there is one independent, Sen. Bernard Sanders (Vt.).

In 2010, ROA submitted testimony to the SVAC on presumptive eligibility for veterans of Vietnam and other conflicts and improvements to the Post-9/11 GI Bill. All ROA testimony can be found at

SVAC Links:
-Upcoming/Past Hearings
-Committee Jurisdiction
-Legislation referred to the Committee

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