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Congresswoman Ann McLane Kuster

Representing the 2nd District of New Hampshire

Breaking through the gridlock…

Apr 24, 2015
Catching up with Annie

I hope you are all having a productive week. Recently, I have been working to bring people together so we can solve some of the challenges we face as a nation. This week, I introduced amendments to benefit veteran small business owners, welcomed the SBA Administrator to NH, helped honor Vietnam veterans, sponsored a bill to protect our environment, and questioned VA officials about mismanagement practices and ways to look out for the best interests of the brave men and women who have served our nation.

Fighting for Veteran, Women, and Minority Entrepreneurs

This week, I spoke on the House floor in support of an amendment I offered to H.R. 1195, the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection Advisory Boards Act, which would better protect veterans and military families from financial crimes. Our men and women in uniform make great sacrifices to serve our nation, and we can all agree that they should not have their homes foreclosed on, or their cars repossessed, or their families evicted while they are fighting overseas to protect our freedom. That’s why I introduced this amendment to ensure that if an individual has violated protections for our military families, they should not serve on an advisory board to help the CFPB write new rules for the financial services industry. (Watch my speech here)

I was also proud to introduce a separate amendment to ensure women, veteran, and minority entrepreneurs are included as members of the CFPB’s Small Business Advisory Board. The amendment passed with incredibly strong support from both Republicans and Democrats, 244 to 173, and would guarantee that a diverse range of perspectives are part of the discussion of new regulations set forth by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Welcoming the SBA Administrator to the Granite State

The Small Business Administration does extremely valuable work on behalf of our local businesses, and I was so proud to bring SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet to New Hampshire to share crucial information with our small business leaders about how the SBA can help them expand their businesses and create more jobs for our workers. Small businesses are the backbone of every local economy, and the roundtable we held at Blake’s Natural Foods in Concord provided us with a great opportunity to both share information about available SBA resources, and to hear from our local business leaders about ways in which the SBA can continue to support their success. The Administrator also updated local businesses on SBA efforts to increase U.S. exports, and she addressed the need to quickly reauthorize the Export-Import Bank, which assists thousands of small businesses and is scheduled to expire in June.

Honoring Vietnam Veterans

The veterans who served in the Vietnam War made grave sacrifices and fought courageously to protect our country. On Saturday, it was my distinct privilege to help honor these brave Granite Staters for their service in the face of adversity both abroad and at home.  We must always remember everything these service members did to preserve our national security and way of life.

Protecting our Environment

Over the last 50 years, the Land and Water Conservation Fund has become one of the most important conservation programs in the country, helping to protect everything from national parks to Civil War battlefields.  Both parties can agree on the value of preserving our country’s natural treasures, and I was proud to join my colleagues from both sides of the aisle to help introduce legislation to make this program permanent.  Our natural environment is one of the Granite State’s greatest treasures, and the LWCF is critical to protecting it for generations to come. If Congress fails to act, the program will expire at the end of September.

Digging in on VA Mismanagement

At several hearings over the last couple of weeks, I joined my colleagues in questioning VA officials on mismanagement practices and ways to improve the culture at the VA.

The recently released VA Inspector General report showing gross instances of mismanagement at regional VA offices is absolutely outrageous, and we must immediately address the issues uncovered in the report. This week, I questioned VA whistleblowers about these practices at the VA Regional Offices, and ways in which the Veterans Benefit Administration (VBA) can improve an overall culture at both the Philadelphia and Oakland VA Regional Offices that emphasizes production over quality in rating and processing claims. Any and all instances of supervisors cultivating a culture that rewards data manipulation prevent our veterans from receiving the care and benefits they deserve, and we must hold managers accountable. (Watch my testimony here)

Last week, I questioned Veterans Affairs Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson and the Army Corps of Engineers about egregious cost overruns at the new VA hospital being constructed in Aurora, Colorado. It is our duty as Americans to ensure our veterans have access to high quality care, but the poor lack of planning on the VA’s part in Colorado has led to huge cost overruns and unacceptable delays. I call on the VA to immediately identify the individuals responsible for the lack of planning, and to put a plan in place to prevent these problems from persisting. (Watch here)

During a VA Subcommittee hearing, I heard testimony from VA whistleblowers and strongly urged VA officials to crack down on retaliation against employees who come forward to report mismanagement at the VA. Last year, whistleblowers helped our Committee uncover gross instances of mismanagement at VA centers around the country, which eventually led to Congress passing comprehensive legislation to resolve issues at the VA and drastically improve the quality of services offered to our veterans. Whistleblowers are crucial to our effort to uncover any impediments to veteran care, and we must ensure not only that whistleblowers are protected, but also that any individual who attempts to retaliate against them for coming forward is immediately disciplined or fired. (Watch here)

Thanks for staying engaged and for everything you do for New Hampshire!