Washington, D.C. – Congressman Kevin McCarthy (CA-23) spoke in favor of the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act. This bill greatly expands the education benefits within the GI Bill. McCarthy’s remarks highlighted his provision in the bill, the VET TEC Act. This provision enables veterans to enroll in non-traditional technology courses and programs that are geared to getting a job after completion. It also provides the VA the necessary flexibility to approve these education programs—while also guarding against abuses.
McCarthy’s full remarks as prepared can be found below:
“Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to say a few words in support of the GI Bill reforms this committee will work on this week.
“First, let me begin by recognizing the positive work this committee has achieved so far this year. On a bipartisan basis you are leading Congress to deliver on our duty to provide veterans better health care and post-service opportunities. The dynamic here is a model for our colleagues. And I look forward to continuing to work together on behalf of the men and women who protect and serve this great country.
“Chief among the promises we make to the men and women who serve is to give them support and resources to obtain an education after service. Applying the lessons they learn in the service to the lessons taught in the classroom is an enrichment opportunity that our society benefits from greatly. The post 9/11 GI Bill has long helped countless veterans in educational and career pursuits.
“But today, we are on the brink of vast career and work transformations. The rise of artificial intelligence and robotics are upending how jobs are performed as we have traditionally known them.
“But as we all saw with the advent of ATM’s, this disruption has promise to be a job creator, not destroyer. The challenge before us is securing the right response for Americans to get ahead and take advantage of the changes.
“News reports abound highlighting the skills gap in today’s workforce. AP’s headline on the May jobs report was concise: ‘Jobs Data Could Signal Shortage of Qualified Workers to Hire.’ By 2024, the tech industry is expected to add almost 500,000 new jobs to the industry. However, many tech employers are looking for candidates who have a particular skill set that candidates often do not learn in traditional settings.
“Consequently, industry employers have turned to non-traditional programs like boot camps, nano-degrees, and coding schools to find candidates with the necessary skillset. The traditional career path is no longer a straight shot.
“These non-traditional technology education models are part of the solution to closing the skills gap. Just ask Alphabet, Microsoft, Amazon, Ford, GE, or any of America’s great companies and they will tell you of the promise these non-traditional models hold.
“But currently veterans are unable to apply their GI education benefits to these courses. My provision in this legislation creates a pilot program to provide veterans the ability to take advantage of these education opportunities.
“Veterans are prime candidates for tech positions because of their military discipline, ability to work under pressure, and teamwork. Many veterans often learn skills during their service and training that could be applied to the tech industry.
“The VET TEC Act enables veterans to enroll in non-traditional technology courses and programs that are geared to getting a job after completion. This provision also provides the VA the necessary flexibility to approve these education programs, while also guarding against abuses.
“These reforms the committee will consider this week will have a positive impact felt by veterans returning to civilian life. This impact will be lifelong.
“And with a renewed commitment to career preparation, particularly in the technology industry, American industry and our veterans stand to lead in the 21st century. Thank you.”
The Department of Transportation (DOT) announced that the Meadows Field Runway Rehabilitation Project was awarded $11,269,708.00. This grant, supported by Congressman Kevin McCarthy, is the third and final phase of a grant package from the DOT. The previous grants were awarded in 2016 for $12,500,000.00 and 2015 for $11,757,817.00. This grant will be used to improve the runway at Meadows Field Airport. McCarthy released the following statement on the final piece to this grant:
“Meadows Field Airport has long been the gateway to the Central Valley. It is the site where we welcome family and friends, and where business is introduced to the bounty our community offers. This activity however has taken its toll on the airport’s infrastructure – particularly the runway. To ensure travelers arrive and depart safely, it is imperative our infrastructure is updated. That is why I am pleased the Department of Transportation has completed this grant process and approved the final phase of the runway rehabilitation project, something that reflects the hard work, patience, and leadership of Richard Strickland and the entire team at Kern County Airports to bring this project to fruition. With renewed infrastructure we will continue to be the place people come to in the Valley.”
WASHINGTON (AP) —Congressional Republicans and Democrats have reached initial agreement on the biggest expansion of college aid for military veterans in a decade, removing a 15-year time limit to tap into benefits and boosting money for thousands in the National Guard and Reserve.
The deal being announced early Thursday is a sweeping effort to fill coverage gaps in the post-9/11 GI Bill amid a rapidly changing job market. Building on major legislation passed in 2008 that guaranteed a full-ride scholarship to any in-state public university — or the cash amount for private college students similar to the value of a scholarship at a state college — the bill gives veterans added flexibility to enroll in college later in life. Veterans would get additional payments if they complete science, technology and engineering courses.
The Associated Press obtained details of the agreement in advance of a formal bill introduction Thursday.
For a student attending a private university, the additional benefits to members of the Guard and Reserve could mean $2,300 a year more in tuition than they are receiving now, plus a bigger housing allowance.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., praised the bill as a major effort to modernize the GI Bill, better positioning veterans for jobs after their service in a technologically sophisticated U.S. military.
“It’s really about training the workforce in a post-9/11 GI Bill world,” he told The Associated Press. “Veterans are being locked out of a whole new economy.”
House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Phil Roe, the bill’s lead sponsor, said he would schedule a committee vote next week. Pledging more VA reforms to come, McCarthy said the full House will act quickly, describing the bill as just the “first phase to get the whole VA system working again.”
“We’ll move it out this month,” McCarthy said.
Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia, chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, said he would introduce a companion bill, while Sen. Jon Tester of Montana, the panel’s senior Democrat, said he was “encouraged” by the bipartisan plan. Veterans’ issues have been one of the few areas on which Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill have found some common ground, as they remain sharply divided on health care, tax reform and other issues.
The education benefits would take effect for enlistees who begin using their GI Bill money next year.
Kristofer Goldsmith, 31, says he believes it would benefit many former service members who, like himself, aren’t ready to immediately enroll in college after military service. Goldsmith served in the U.S. Army as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2005, reaching the rank of sergeant, but returned home to constant nightmares and other PTSD symptoms. He was kicked out of the military with a general discharge after a suicide attempt, barring him from receiving GI benefits.
Now an assistant director for policy at Vietnam Veterans of America, Goldsmith advocates for veterans with PTSD and is appealing his discharge status. He’s heading to Columbia University in the fall.
“I feel extremely lucky I have found my passion in veterans’ advocacy,” Goldsmith said. “But I’ve taken out tens of thousands of dollars to go to school. GI benefits are something service members earn while they serve. They shouldn’t lose it just because they aren’t transitioning back the way the government wants.”
According to Student Veterans of America, only about half of the 200,000 service members who leave the military each year go on to enroll in a college, while surveys indicate that veterans often outperform peers in the classroom. The bill is backed by the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars, which says hundreds of thousands of former service members stand to gain from the new array of benefits.
“This is going to be a big win,” said Patrick Murray, associate director at VFW.
The legislation combines 18 separate House bills, also providing full GI Bill eligibility to Purple Heart recipients. Previously, those individuals had to serve at least three years. The bill also would restore benefits if a college closed in the middle of the semester, a protection added when thousands of veterans were hurt by the collapse of for-profit college giant ITT Tech.
The bill hasn’t been free of controversy.
A draft plan circulated by Roe’s committee in April drew fire after it initially proposed paying for the $3 billion cost of upgraded benefits over 10 years by reducing service members’ monthly pay by $100 per month. Veterans’ groups sharply criticized that plan as an unfair “tax on troops,” noting that Army privates typically earn less than $1,500 per month.
“The GI Bill is a cost of war, and Congress needs to pay for it as long as we are at war,” said Paul Rieckhoff, IAVA’s founder and CEO.
The latest proposal would be paid for by bringing living stipend payments under the GI Bill down to a similar level as that received by an active-duty member, whose payments were reduced in 2014 by 1 percent a year for five years.
Total government spending on the GI Bill is expected to be more than $100 billion over 10 years.
Rep. Tim Walz, the senior Democrat on the House Veterans Affairs Committee and a bill co-sponsor, praised the plan, saying it will “improve the lives of future generations of veterans … without asking our troops or American taxpayers to pay more.”Read More
This evening the House of Representatives passed H.R. 23, the Gaining Responsibility on Water Act. This bill takes another major step forward to bring our communities the water they contract and pay for by increasing pumping and speeding up the process to approve new water projects.
BACKGROUND on the GROW Act
McCarthy gave a speech on the House floor in favor of the bill.
Full remarks are below or watch online here.
“Now, Mr. Speaker, water is not optional. Not in my district. Not in California. Not anywhere. But over the past five years my constituents have struggled to survive without life-giving water in the face of a catastrophic drought.
“This past winter, heavy rains and snowfall have brought much needed relief. In fact, there was so much water this past winter, we ran out of room to store it.
“But we cannot always expect a year to bring monsoon-level rains and record snow. What happens if next year’s rain and snowfall is average? Or below average? Or we have another drought? The federal and state regulations that keep us from pumping and storing water will come back to haunt us.
“The water bill passed by this body and signed into law last year was a down payment on California’s future. Today’s legislation is another major investment in our state’s future.
“So, let’s look at pumping. There is no reason—absolutely no reason –we should prioritize potential benefits to fish over real benefits to families. This legislation increases Delta pumping and will bring immediate relief two-thirds of California south of the Delta.
“But a long-term solution demands more than pumping. While California’s population has doubled since the 1970s, we haven’t completed a single major storage project in that time. Now that’s worth restating. With California’s population having doubled since the 1970s we have not completed a single major storage project in that time. How can California grow and thrive in the future if we depend on inadequate infrastructure from nearly 50 years go?
“Currently, five reservoir projects have been stalled in regulatory and red tape for decades. If these reservoirs alone are built, we could store between one to 1.5 million acre-feet of additional water in our state. So we need to build more storage as soon as possible. Last year’s water bill jumpstarted the process for building new reservoirs in California and the West. It was a bipartisan bill with hundreds of votes out of the House, more than 70 in the Senate.
“Today’s legislation builds on that by requiring the federal government to finally finish the feasibility studies for the five storage projects in California. Then we reform the permitting process so other projects aren’t held up for years trying to get approval from a dozen different agencies.
“So I want to thank Congressman David Valadao (CA-21) for his hard work, his persistence on this issue. Ultimately, American citizens haven’t gotten the water they need because their government was failing them. Last year’s bill was a start to change all that. So today, we take another major step forward to bring our communities the water they contract and pay for.
“Now Mr. Speaker, you’re going to hear a lot of people on this side of the aisle talk about the need in California. Unfortunately, on the other side of the aisle it looks like you’ll just hear from one. That should show you the need and desire of why this bill is so important.”
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Kevin McCarthy (CA-23) spoke in the House floor in favor of H.R. 1988, a bill sponsored by Rep. McCarthy to name a Bakersfield post office after country icon Merle Haggard.
Full remarks are below, or watch online here.
“Mr. Speaker, you take a look back on American history. You can see figures standing tall who spoke for the everyday working man. Following the long tradition of Whitman and Twain, Merle Haggard was a man who knew America instinctively because he lived an American life. It wasn’t a life of the movies, but it was all more compelling because it was all more real. That is the reason they called him ‘the Poet of the Common Man.’
“Merle Haggard didn’t have it easy. At the height of the Depression, his family searched for opportunity out west. Merle grew up with little means and lived with a past of mistakes and regrets.
“So he sang. He sang in ‘Branded Man’ of the stigma of prison, crooning ‘I held my head up high, determined I would rise above the shame.’ He sang in ‘Working Man Blues’ of the grind of doing his duty to his family, ‘working as long as my two hands are fit to use.’ And he sang of his roots, not of power or wealth or status, but of pride in being ‘an Okie from Muskogee’—a place of leather boots, football, and Old Glory.
“He found success and—more importantly redemption—in the music he shared with his country.
“Now, the Bakersfield Sound changed country music, and it’s a testament to Merle Haggard’s talent that when you listen to hits from ‘Branded Man’ to ‘Mama Tried’ to ‘Big City’ to ‘Working Man’s Blues’ or even to ‘Okie from Muskogee,’ you not only hear the hardship and wisdom of a well-lived life, but you can hear the roots of so much of the music we still listen to today.
“For a man who went from Bakersfield High to San Quentin prison to the Country Music Hall of Fame, a building doesn’t seem like much. But I hope that when people pass by the Merle Haggard Post Office Building in downtown Bakersfield, they will remember an icon of our community, an artist who never backed down, a man whose honesty about his own failings and willingness to pick himself back up inspired music that lifts our spirits and feeds our souls.
“Merle Haggard’s name will live on in this building, but his spirit will live on in his music that calls us to do the best we can every day God gives us.”
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA-23) spoke on the House floor today in favor of H.R. 3004, Kate’s Law and H.R. 3003, the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act.
Full remarks are below or watch online here.
“Mr. Speaker, there are some debates on this floor that are very complicated. They hinge on technicalities, complex judgment calls. You need to properly weigh all the data, all the studies, and all the nuances.
“But I will tell you Mr. Speaker, that today’s debate is not complicated. This is not about a nuance. The subject is not complex. This is about answering a simple question: Is the purpose of our government to protect the American people first? Or is the purpose of our government to protect felons who have entered our country illegally, broken our laws, and threatened our people?
“I wish this was an exaggeration. But American citizens have died because some local governments have refused to uphold our laws.
“These so-called sanctuary cities offer safety for illegal felons, but they do so by putting our families, our neighbors, and our fellow Americans in danger.
“The American people now look to their government, and you know what? They are uncertain. They elected people to represent them, but would those representatives rather protect felons here illegally or their fellow citizens?
“As far as this House is concerned, let us end the uncertainty today. Our government should and always will put the safety of the American people first. Cities offering sanctuary for criminals will no longer be ignored, and criminals who threaten our citizens and reenter our country with no respect for our laws will be punished.
“Kate Steinle, an American citizen, a daughter, and a promising young woman would be alive today if local governments did not act as safe havens for lawbreakers. Juan Lopez-Sanchez shot Kate after being deported five times. He had seven felony convictions before he murdered her.
“After this crime we asked the same questions the rest of America did. How could this man be let free? Why was he in America in the first place? And how can cities across our nation continue to shield such people from the law?
“In America, the federal government has little right to tell states and localities how to conduct affairs properly left to them. But our federal government has every right to demand that these governments follow our just laws written in accordance with our Constitution.
“And if they do not, if those cities protect criminals at the expense of law-abiding Americans, they should not expect their fellow citizens to help them through the federal government.
“For those cities with laws designed to harbor immigrants who have entered this country illegally, our legislation will prohibit those laws, cut off federal grant money, and allow the families who suffer as a result of their foolishness the right to have their day in court.
“And to the criminals, if you break our laws and ever return––justice will come for you and the penalty will be severe.
“Mr. Speaker, being an American means something. We should never forget that. If America is your home, if you are a citizen, if you are a part of this national community, rest assured: the government is here for you. The American people come first.”
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Kevin McCarthy (CA-23) released the following statement on the Trump Administration’s decision to withdraw from the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule:
“The Waters of the U.S. rule was a ridiculous usurpation of power by the EPA—so ridiculous that bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate voted to overturn the rule last year. The federal government has no right to regulate intermittent streams, creeks, and ponds, especially when that water is on private property. The Trump Administration’s decision today to withdraw this rule makes things right by getting Washington out of what it had no right to be involved with in the first place.”
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Kevin McCarthy (CA-23) released the following statement after the President signed S. 1094, the VA Accountability Act:
“Today, our country takes a significant step to reform the VA with a renewed purpose and ability to serve our veterans. The ultimate goal is nothing less than a transformation of the culture within the VA so that our veterans receive the best care possible. As we know, most VA employees consider it their personal mission to heal and care for those who served us. But that mission is put at risk by the continued corruption, incompetence, and scandal of a few bad employees. We won’t let this continue because we can’t let this continue. The health and well-being of our veterans is too important.
“With President Trump’s signature today, the VA Accountability Act will give the Secretary of Veterans Affairs the authority to remove bad VA employees and hire the best personnel to fulfill the promise we made as a nation to provide for the health and well-being of our veterans. Congress will continue to build on this reform until all veterans have the VA they deserve.”
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Kevin McCarthy (CA-23) spoke on the House floor today in favor of H.R. 1654, the Water Supply Permitting Coordination Act.
Excerpts of the speech are below, or watch online here.
“Now, living in a naturally dry region that we do, you’d think it would be common practice to prepare for inevitable times of drought by capturing water when Mother Nature blesses us with the rain and snow…. What would help the people in our district and across California and across the west to prepare for future droughts we know are coming? We should start by building more dams and reservoirs. So what’s stopping us? Well, a ridiculous permitting process that forces us to wait and wait and wait when we should be acting.”
“Just look at history. Take the High Savery Dam in Wyoming. It took 14 years to permit the project but only two years to build it. It was finished in 2004. Think about how much the world changed in those 14 years of time. In 1990 somewhere around 5 million people had cell phones and only around 15 percent of Americans owned a computer. By 2004 when the dam was finished about 180 million people had cell phones and 62 percent of Americans owned a computer. In 1990 the most popular movie was Total Recall. By 2004, we were already on to Shrek 2. Now, looking forward to my home state, we can’t wait 14 years after starting the permitting process to finish our projects.”
“So fixing the process isn’t just about saving some headaches or few hours of time. This is about making sure millions of people in California and across America have the water they need and deserve. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank Congressman Tom McClintock for this legislation. Fixing this permitting process for water storage is more than just common sense. It’s about making us a nation of doers again to get the American people what they actually need.”
“We should build more dams, and they should not have to wait 14 years with only two years to build it. We can do better, we should do better, and we will do better when we pass this bill.”
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Kevin McCarthy (CA-23) spoke on the House floor today on S. 1094, the VA Accountability Act.
Full remarks are below or watch online here.
“Mr. Speaker, first and foremost I want to thank Chairman Roe and the House Committee on Veterans Affairs for their work on this legislation and their focus on reforming the VA. I know they and the secretary are all committed to making sure our veterans get the best and only the best and no excuses.
“Now, the Department of Veterans Affairs has an honorable task to care for and heal our veterans. We made a promise in this country that if you serve, your fellow citizens will take care of you. And it is through the employees of the VA that we as a nation fulfill that promise. It is for this reason that we cannot accept the failures and backlogs in our veterans’ programs.
“Now, we all know that there are thousands of great employees at the VA who consider their duty to care for veterans as much bigger than just a job. But the few bad apples are spoiling the whole barrel.
“We know how this works. You can have an office or a team committed to doing the best job possible. But when one member isn’t pulling his or her weight, when somebody is breaking the rules and getting away with it, when bad people get transferred or even promoted instead of fired, that totally destroys a whole organization.
“It undermines morale, and it makes the team ineffective, and it allows for failures to continue or get worse. And failures at the VA have life or death consequences.
“This has happened for years. Years where a person who was jailed got leave to serve time and then returned to the VA. Years where an employee showed up drunk to work and participated in a surgery. Years where a psychiatrist watched deeply inappropriate videos with a veteran in the room.
“After years of all this and none of them getting fired, the good employees become dispirited. The culture at the VA will decline. And too many of our veterans receive low-quality care, if they can get care at all.
“Mr. Speaker, the VA is steeped in a culture of ambivalence coupled with a lack of accountability, and our veterans suffer as a result.
“Fixing the culture at the VA requires us to acknowledge the great work of the many without leaving them tainted with the incompetence and scandal of the few. It requires removing the bad apples.
“So, I am glad we are finally sending this bill to the President’s desk. You see, the House passed a similar bill in 2015, but the Senate did not act. We passed another in the new Congress earlier this year. And now that our Senate counterparts have voted, we will take our final step today to send this legislation to the President’s desk.
“Once President Trump signs this into law, I predict we will begin to see the cultural change at the VA, and our veterans will get the care we promised them and they deserve.
“I yield back.”
2421 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Congressman Kevin McCarthy represents the 23rd District of California, which spans Kern, Tulare, and Los Angeles counties. First elected in 2006, Kevin is a native of Bakersfield and a fourth-generation Kern County resident. He is committed to policies that give small businesses and entrepreneurs the confidence they need to hire, expand, invest and innovate. After the 2010 midterm elections, Kevin was elected by his colleagues to serve as Majority Whip of the United States House of Representatives.
Kevin started his own small business before the age of 21. He built Kevin O’s Deli from the ground up, even enlisting his father’s help in building the deli’s counter in their garage. He worked hard, hired employees and enjoyed success in his community. That’s also where he first encountered government overregulation. The countless frivolous and redundant rules, as well as the taxes small businesses like his were burdened with, spurred Kevin’s interest in public service. When Kevin sold his business, he used the profits to put himself through college and graduate school. He received both his undergraduate degree and his Masters in Business Administration from California State University, Bakersfield.
During college, Kevin accepted an internship with then-Congressman Bill Thomas, and soon became a member of Congressman Thomas’s staff. Kevin won his first election in 2000 as Trustee to the Kern Community College District. In 2002, McCarthy was elected to represent the 32nd Assembly District in the California State Assembly. As a freshman legislator, he was selected unanimously by his Republican colleagues to serve as the Assembly Republican Leader, becoming the first freshman legislator and the first legislator from Kern County to assume the top Republican post in the California State Assembly. Kevin worked with his colleagues in the Assembly and Senate and with the Governor to reduce California’s budget deficit, overhaul the state worker’s compensation system and enhance California’s business climate to create more opportunities for California workers and businesses until he ran for Congress in 2006.
Kevin brings his personal experience as a small business owner and as an effective leader in the statehouse to Washington D.C. In his role as Majority Whip, Kevin leads the effort in Congress to advance common sense policies that will put America back on the path to prosperity. Since gaining control of the House in November 2010, Kevin and his Republican colleagues have blocked the largest tax increase in American history, cut out-of-control government spending by historic levels and passed numerous pieces of legislation that will help create jobs in America. These bills reduce the burden on small businesses, increase our nation’s energy security by promoting domestic energy production, knock down barriers for small business owners to access capital and help increase certainty for the private sector.
Kevin will continue to fight to get Washington’s fiscal house in order while promoting policies that empower the private sector to invest and create jobs.
When Kevin is not in Washington fighting for the constituents of California’s 23rd District and for the future of America, he is home in Bakersfield with his wife Judy and two children Connor and Meghan.