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Senate Proceeding on May 26th, 2010 :: 4:58:10 to 5:06:05
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James Webb

4:58:07 to 4:58:28( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: so, and i hope we can get the necessary support to adopt the amendments. mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from virginia i recognized. mr. webb: mr. president, i would like to speak today on an amdment that i've introduced. it's amendment number 4222, which, again, i hope at the appropriate time will be called

James Webb

4:58:10 to 5:06:05( Edit History Discussion )
Speech By: James Webb

James Webb

4:58:29 to 4:58:49( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: up on my behalf and -- and actually i -- i would suggest and hope that this become a part of the managers' package.?? it's a relatively simple amendment, but i think it's very important in terms of clarifying the role of the congress v. the role of the executive branch i

James Webb

4:58:50 to 4:59:10( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: a lot of decision making. last october the secretary of veteransaffairs announced his intention to establish presumption of service connection for three medical conditions, including coronary heart disease for veterans who

James Webb

4:59:11 to 4:59:32( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: were exposed to agent orange. stated that this rule making was necessary as a result of the agent orange act of 1991, which requires the secretary of veterans' affairs to promulgate regulations establishing a presumption of connection once he finds a positive association between

James Webb

4:59:33 to 4:59:55( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: exposure to your by sides -- and the subsequent development of any particular disease. the department of veterans affairs made a request on the basis of this rule making. it's contained in this supplemental, and it is an amount of about $13.6 billion

James Webb

4:59:56 to 5:00:17( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: for the service connection, principally of coronary heart disease to agent orange in vietnam. and i think that we need to proceed very carefully inerms of our role in the congress in examing this presumption.

James Webb

5:00:18 to 5:00:38( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: it is not yet official policy in the department of veterans affairs. it's still in the review process that congress is going to have 60 days beginning at some point this summer in order to examine this decision that general shinshecky made.

James Webb

5:00:39 to 5:00:59( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: so my amendment basically says we should fence this money, and i think it's appropriate -- no pun intended -- that the appropriations committee honored the request of the d.v.a. in this issue, but we should fence this money until the review process is complete. this is the -- the difficulty

James Webb

5:01:00 to 5:01:21( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: here. when the agent orange legislation was passed in 1991, it created two different sorts of presumptions. the first was that everyone who had been in vietnam, everyone who had served in vietnam was presumed to have been exposed to agent orange, and i would say as

James Webb

5:01:22 to 5:01:43( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: a committee counsel in the house of representatives more than 30 years ago, i counsel the agent orange hearings. there were four agent orange hearings. that was a very generous assumption that was made in ts law to say that everyone that was in vietnam was, in fact, exposed to agent orange. we do want to take care of those who were. we do want to take care of our veterans who served and who

James Webb

5:01:44 to 5:02:04( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: incurred disabilities or diseases as a result of that service. the second presumption in this legislation was that as a matter of executive discretion, the secretary of veterans affairs could then look at information

James Webb

5:02:05 to 5:02:27( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: and decide which diseases or medical conditions should be also presumed to have resulted from exposure to agent orange. so, first of all, everyone who served in vietnam is assumed to have been exposed to agent orange, and then certain medical conditions are determined so that the presumption is that they were the result of agent

James Webb

5:02:28 to 5:02:49( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: orange exposure. in 2001, it was decided that type 2 diabetes was the result of agent orange exposure. it was decided by the then-secretary of veterans affairs. by 2009, morehan 263,000 vietnam veterans were receiving disability compensation related

James Webb

5:02:50 to 5:03:10( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: to this decision. that's 10% of everyone who went to vietnam has been service connected through this agent orange bill with respect to type 2 diabetes. the estimates that we would have on coronary heart disease are much, much higher.

James Webb

5:03:11 to 5:03:33( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: we are talking about the potential at ainimum of spending $31 billion in the next ten years as a result of this presumptive service connection. and i must say i have not had the opportunity as a member of

James Webb

5:03:34 to 5:03:54( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: the veterans committee to really hear from the secretary of veterans affairs as to how he made this connection. looking at the review chart, there is a category called level of connection. in other words, when you take the scientific information and you apply it to this condition, what is the -- what is the level of connection? for instance, when they looked

James Webb

5:03:55 to 5:04:16( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: at b. correctly leukemia, there was sufficient evidence. that was the category. when we're looking at coronary heart disease, it's limited or suggestive evidence. i don't know what that means. but what i would like to say is that we have an obligation in the congress, a, to make sure that we take care of our veterans, but b, that we also hold the executive branch to

James Webb

5:04:17 to 5:04:37( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: some sort of accountable standard. that accountable standard will be occurring over the next couple of months. i think it's appropriate in this particular supplemental that we mark this -- it's either $13.4 billion or $13.6 billion just for this

James Webb

5:04:38 to 5:04:58( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: increase in the service connection, that we mark this as not to be spent until we can clarify this iue. this is not in any way at issue as to whether or not we support our veterans. i take a back seat to no one in my concern for our veterans.

James Webb

5:04:59 to 5:05:19( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: i have spent my entire adult life one way or the other involved in veterans' law. but i do think we need to have practical, proper procedures here, and i do believe that the executive branch, whether it's the e.p.a. or the state department or the department of veterans affairs, needs to be held to an accountable standard. and with that, i hope very much

James Webb

5:05:20 to 5:05:43( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: that we can get this amendment as a part of the management package, managers' package, and as the issue resolves itself, we can decide the appropriate level of funding that will go to the connection between a medical condition and exposure to agent orange.

James Webb

5:05:46 to 5:06:01( Edit History Discussion )

James Webb: with that, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.

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