Following a blistering address on Wednesday night by Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin toward Republican colleagues who threatened to vote down her veterans support bill, the legislation passed through the chamber on Thursday evening.
“Earlier tonight, enough of my colleagues supported the #SolidStartAct & allowed the House to pass this terrific, bipartisan legislation to help veterans navigating their first year after returning to civilian life,” tweeted Slotkin (D-Lansing).
Slotkin’s anger was directed at Republicans who wanted to scuttle her bipartisan Solid Start Act, a bill to connect veterans with the Department of Veterans Affairs as they transition to civilian life.
The bill would make permanent the Solid Start pilot program at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), through which the VA contacts veterans multiple times by phone in the first year after they leave service to check in and help connect them to programs and benefits.
Although the Senate passed Slotkin’s bill by unanimous consent earlier this month, a group of House Republicans on Wednesday threatened to vote the bill down over a single 16-word provision of the bill: ensuring the VA is “Providing women veterans with information that is tailored to their specific health care and benefit needs.”
“This was bipartisan from the start — it passed the Senate unanimously just a few weeks ago,” she said. “That’s why it was so disturbing that some Republicans threatened to vote against it at the 11th hour, making this into a political fight over abortion at the expense of our veteran.”
Congressional Republicans, led by Rep. Mike Bost (R-Ill), claim that VA funding of women’s health procedures includes abortion and thus would violate Hyde Amendment, which restricts federal funding for abortion.
“This turned a bipartisan bill into a partisan fight,” Slotkin ssid, “and they tried to hold this legislation hostage for one simple reason: they continue to be hellbent on a ban on all abortion, for any reason, in both the states and at the federal level.”
“Fortunately, their leadership realized this was a mistake & reversed their opposition,” she said. “Playing politics with the health & wellbeing of our veterans is unacceptable. I’m pleased that enough of my Republican colleagues stopped the games & allowed this bill to pass.”
The bill has been endorsed by Disabled American Veterans (DAV), the American Legion, and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW).