Congressional Roundup: COST of War Act, More COVID Aid, Restaurant Revitalization Fund

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It’s June 6, 2021. Here’s a recap of recent updates from New Hampshire’s Congressional Delegation

Congressional dome. Credit/Wikimedia Commons

Hassan COST of War Act

The Comprehensive and Overdue Support for Troops (COST) of War Act of 2021, a piece of legislation co-sponsored by U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan, recently received approval from the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

The bill, which address the failure to provide sufficient compensation and care for veterans exposed to toxic substances during their service,  includes key pieces of another Hassan’s bill, the TEAM Act.

The legislation would allow all veterans who were at risk of toxic exposure, including 3.5 million Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, to obtain immediate and lifelong access to health care from the VA. It would also establish a new science-based and veteran-focused process for the establishment of new presumptive conditions, and would provide benefits to thousands of toxic exposure veterans who have been long-ignored or forgotten, including Agent Orange veterans suffering from hypertension.

In addition, the Veterans’ Affairs Committee also passed Senators Hassan and Mike Braun’s (R-IN) Hire Veteran Health Heroes Act of 2021, which would help the Department of Defense and VA actively recruit and hire transitioning service members with a health care background to fill the VA’s more than 45,000 open positions.

“Service members know better than anyone about the cost of war, and when they return home, we must provide these brave men and women with the care that they need to address any service-related injuries or illnesses,” Hassan said. “I am proud to join my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to advance this historic legislation to overhaul how veterans receive treatment for toxic substance exposure through the VA, and help ensure that no veteran is left behind. I am also pleased that my legislation to hire transitioning service members to help fill critical health care shortages at the VA passed out of committee. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to get these important bills across the finish line and signed into law.”

NH getting over $24.5 million in new COVID relief

U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Representatives Annie Kuster (NH-02) and Chris Pappas (NH-01) announced recently that New Hampshire will receive $24,568,498 to address COVID-19 related health disparities among communities considered to be high-risk and medically underserved, including communities of color and Granite Staters in rural areas. Specifically, the funding is being awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services through the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act that was passed by Congress and signed into law in December and will allow the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services to boost COVID-19 testing and contact tracing capabilities. The funding will also help create and deploy new mitigation and prevention services, improve data collection and empower community partners to address COVID-19 health disparities.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated serious barriers and inequities in New Hampshire’s health care system that face our rural families and communities of color. As a result, these Granite Staters have borne the brunt of this public health emergency with a disproportionate share of our state’s COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations,” said Shaheen. “To get to the other side of this crisis, we must address these health disparities and ensure all Granite Staters have access to the health care services they need regardless of their location, background or income, which is exactly what these federal dollars will help do. I’ll continue to work in the Senate to address health disparities in our state and advocate for additional federal resources Granite Staters need to weather this crisis.”

“Granite Staters in rural areas and people of color often lack access to the high-quality health care that they need, and this has been especially true amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” Hassan said. “This $24.5 million grant through the year-end relief bill will help New Hampshire address these ongoing health disparities and get critical resources to Granite Staters. The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare many challenges in our health care system, and I will continue working to improve health care access for all Granite Staters.”

“Every day, New Hampshire is getting closer to finally crushing this virus, ending this public health and economic emergency, and building back better,” said Kuster. “As we continue those efforts, it’s critical that our underserved and rural communities that have been disproportionately affected by this pandemic have access to the support they need, including the highly effective COVID-19 vaccines. That’s what these federal dollars help accomplish – I was proud to help secure these much-needed funds and will continue working to ensure no Granite Stater is left behind.”

“Granite Staters in historically underserved communities and those who are at high-risk have been hit incredibly hard by this pandemic,” said Pappas. “This federal funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, approved through the December Coronavirus Response, will help address health disparities that have arisen because of COVID-19 through a number of improved services and resources. It will also ensure that local community partners are able to address COVID-19 health disparities and keep our communities healthy and safe. This funding arrives at a crucial time for our state and I’m pleased to join in announcing these important new resources.”

Pappas talks about Restaurant Revitalization Fund
Congressman Chris Pappas (D-NH), a small business owner and Co-Chair of the bipartisan House Small Business Caucus, recently led a briefing alongside Rep. Kevin Hern (R-OK) about the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, a program created through the American Rescue Plan – which Pappas supported and helped pass in March.

Pappas kicked off the briefing, which included representatives from the National Restaurant Association, Independent Restaurant Coalition, and International Franchise Association, by sharing his experiences as a small business owner and highlighting his priorities for strengthening this and other vital small business support programs. Demand for the $28.6 billion program has been strong, and today’s conversation centered on the need for continued efforts to support our nation’s restaurants.

“If you’ve worked in a restaurant, you know that every day is an all hands on deck kind of day,” said Congressman Pappas. “When the pandemic hit, we needed an all hands on deck effort to get resources and support to Main Street so it could survive. That’s why the relief that has been authorized on a bipartisan basis over the last 14 months was so critical. As we move forward, I’m committed to providing additional resources to small businesses, while working to strengthen and improve existing support programs so they meet the needs of local businesses. I want to thank my Co-Chair Congressman Hern for leading the first Small Business Caucus briefing of the 117th Congress with me today. I look forward to working in a bipartisan fashion to help small businesses not only weather the storm of this pandemic, but thrive in the future.”