LEGION-RELATED LEGISLATIVE ACTIONS
Members of both the House and Senate recessed to go back to their home states and districts for the summer district work period, which is August 6 through September 9. Both chambers have pro-forma sessions every three days so that President Obama cannot make recess appointments.
The Commander’s Testimony before the joint House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs committees is scheduled for October 3.
LEGISLATIVE DIVISION ACTIONS
Legion Representatives Attend National Political Conventions
The American Legion was invited to send a delegation to each party’s national convention. Our organization also provided our proposals for each party’s platform. This document is entitled, “Our Pillars, Your Platform”. The American Legion published this special report to give both national parties our key election issues and is geared toward candidates for national office, their challengers, voters, and others who are interested. This 28-page report is posted on our website at www.legion.org and limited hard copies are available while supplies last.
The report pinpoints the Legion’s stand on the most critical issues of today such as veterans’ health care, jobs and education for returning service members and veterans, immigration, benefits, and more. Each of the four pillars of the Legion are covered: Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation, National Security, Americanism, and Children & Youth. The report was produced on behalf of the Legion’s more than 2.4 million members – the wartime veterans of the 20th and 21st centuries who can be found still serving their country in 14,000 posts and in nearly every community in the United States.
Legislative staff members attended platform hearings for the Republican National Convention that were held in Washington, DC, and then the Legion delegation attended and spoke again on behalf of our issues at the final platform hearing in Tampa, FL prior to the convention. Many of our positions are reflected in the platform adopted at their convention. The National Legislative Commission is also distributing a copy of our report to Congress prior to the National Commander’s Testimony on Capitol Hill set for October 3.
Legislative Division Convention Activities
American Legion Legislative staff have been very busy over the past several weeks attending not only their own National Convention in Indianapolis, but also ensuring the Legion platform was heard and considered by the platform committees at the Democratic and Republican national conventions.
The American Legion National Convention returned to the Legion’s headquarters in Indianapolis, IN for the first time since 1995. Legislative staff worked closely with the national volunteer membership of their Commissions and Committees to conduct two meetings over the weekend of August 25th and 26th. The National Legislative Commission met Saturday and received briefings on current topics of interest and concern in the legislative arena on Capitol Hill. Rory Riley, Staff Director and Counsel for the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Disability and Memorial Affairs presented a rundown of the accomplishments of the committee and the goals for the remainder of the Congress. She also answered questions about effective advocacy, how to work with Congressional offices from a grassroots perspective and get your message across, and other topics. Legion New Media Deputy Director Mark Seavey also gave a presentation on the various issues surrounding “Stolen Valor,” from the recent Supreme Court decision striking down the Stolen Valor law to how new legislation being considered on the Hill would pass Constitutional muster and help end the notion that “lying about your military service record is protected Free Speech.”
Sunday’s meeting saw the Committee on Legislation and Rules consider two resolutions, a rarity for this Committee that previously had only received one resolution for consideration since 1985. After the meetings, the Legislative staff was on to tracking the resolutions of the rest of The American Legion. As this year is a renewal year for resolutions, in preparation for the 113th Congress, there was a large volume of resolution traffic to follow. Ultimately, 235 resolutions with legislative intent were adopted at the 94th National Convention. Resolutions adopted at convention go into effect immediately and will continue to be in force until the conclusion of the 113th Congress.
While Legislative staff was working in Indianapolis, Deputy Director Dean Stoline accompanied Past National Commander John Brieden to the Republican Party National Convention in Tampa, FL. While there, the Legion personnel met with party officials to present the Legion position on issues as laid out in the 2012 “Our Pillars, Your Platform” document. Washington DC office Executive Director Peter Gaytan accompanied Legion National Treasurer George A. Buskirk, Jr. to the Democratic Party National Convention in Charlotte, NC this week to accomplish the same goal