WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Roy Blunt (R-MO), Ranking Member and Chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, and Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), a member of the committee, announced a new Senate leave policy for wounded warriors. The policy was authorized under H.R. 6160, the House companion measure to a bill introduced by Hyde-Smith that passed the Senate by unanimous consent and was signed into law in December 2018. The legislation amended the Wounded Warriors Federal Leave Act to ensure disabled veterans working in the legislative branch have leave available to them to attend medical appointments.
“When we ask our young men and women to fight in defense of our nation, we make a promise that we will support them when they return home, no matter what job they pursue,” Klobuchar said. “By ensuring that veterans working in the legislative branch can take the leave they need, we’re telling them that their experience and expertise are important to the law-making process, and that Congress will prioritize their wellness when they serve our country here on Capitol Hill.”
“We should be doing everything we can to support wounded warriors who pursue careers in public service,” Blunt said. “The knowledge, experience, and perspective they’ve gained through their military service would be an asset to any office. I hope these commonsense changes will go a long way toward encouraging more veterans to work here in the Senate.”
“Veterans can offer unique perspectives to the work done in the Senate, and barriers to their service are unacceptable, especially true for wounded warriors,” Hyde-Smith said. “The Rules Committee’s leave guidelines should remove obstacles to work in the Senate, as now directed by law. I believe we are creating more opportunities for wounded warriors by ensuring they can work and still see their doctors and make medical appointments.”
As directed under H.R. 6160, the new regulations allow veterans to take additional leave to seek medical treatment for a service-connected disability. These regulations complete the process of guaranteeing that service-disabled veterans in the Senate have access to the same leave to seek treatment as those in the executive branch.
Throughout her time in the Senate, Klobuchar has worked across the aisle to modernize G.I. Bill benefits for our troops, strengthen funding for veterans’ health care, and improve mental health care for our nation’s soldiers. She has also authored bipartisan bills on behalf of our nation’s veterans and their families to expand job training and employment opportunities, cut red tape and wait times for veterans scheduling appointments at VA Medical Facilities, and reduce veterans’ homelessness.
In January, Klobuchar and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) introduced the bipartisan Veterans Access to Care Act, which would help improve veterans’ medical facilities by allowing facilities with a need for additional health care professionals to apply to be designated as a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA). Once designated, these facilities would have access to the National Health Service Corps, which provides service-obligated scholarships and loan forgiveness to health professional students who pledge to practice in a HPSA for at least two years.
In September 2018, the Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act was signed into law and included Klobuchar and Senator Thom Tillis’ (R-NC) legislation to help servicemembers who have been affected by harmful burn pits. The Helping Veterans Exposed to Burn Pits Act created a center of excellence within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to better understand the health effects associated with burn pits and treat veterans who become sick after exposure.