Toomey warns VA he 'remains concerned' over backlog of disability claims

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) told the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) on Thursday that he would continue to keep his eye on the backlog of veterans' disability claims.

"I share the frustration of Pennsylvania's veterans and their families with this backlog in disability claims processing," Toomey said Thursday. "I'm glad the VA is working hard to address this longstanding issue, and I will continue to monitor its progress."


Senators demand more effective Medicare fraud prevention

Sens. Tom Carper (D-Del.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) on Thursday questioned the effectiveness of anti-waste and fraud-prevention efforts for Medicare. 

“Budgets are tight and we can’t afford to lose taxpayer dollars to waste and fraud,” Baucus said in a statement Thursday. “Medicare’s efforts to crack down must deliver results.”


Manchin to chair group aiming to fix Washington

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) announced Thursday that he will lead a new group whose goal is to get Congress to “put the country’s needs ahead of politics.”

Manchin and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman (R) have decided to co-chair No Labels, a national organization working to change Washington attitudes and make Congress work again.


SC lawmakers question Holder’s decision to go after voter ID law

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder why he decided to challenge South Carolina’s voter identification law.

In a letter sent to Holder on Wednesday, the South Carolina lawmakers pointed out that last week the Washington, D.C., District Court awarded South Carolina possibly up to $3.5 million in litigation costs incurred while defending its voter ID law against a Justice Department challenge. 


NY lawmakers call for administration to fund weatherization programs

New York lawmakers asked the Obama administration to fund the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) and the State Energy Program (SEP), which help reduce energy bills.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Reps. Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.), Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) and Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) said weatherizing can greatly improve the efficiency of buildings and homes and reduce energy costs in cold months.


Sen. Warner to introduce bill to eliminate outdated agency reports

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) announced Wednesday that he would introduce a bill to eliminate outdated and duplicative government agency reports, as recommended by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

“Over the years, federal agencies have been instructed to expend considerable staff time and other resources producing thousands of reports, yet we never look back to see if these reporting requirements might be outdated, duplicative, or even relevant,” Warner said in a statement Wednesday. “If these reports are sitting on a shelf collecting dust, then it’s time for them to go.”


Mont. senators challenge HHS redefining ‘frontier’

Montana Sens. Max Baucus (D) and Jon Tester (D) have asked the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to reconsider its decision to change the definition of “frontier” from population density to a community's distance from a major city.

The senators sent a letter to HHS’s Office of Rural Health Policy on Monday explaining how the change would negatively affect small towns in rural areas get access to doctors and services.


Bennet: It's 'unthinkable' that the House didn't pass VAWA last Congress

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) on Tuesday told the House to stop letting “politics get in the way” of protecting women and quickly pass the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

“It is unthinkable that the House of Representatives allowed the Violence Against Women Act to expire before the end of the year,” Bennet said in a statement Tuesday. “We cannot allow politics to get in the way of protecting our mothers, daughters and grandmothers. It’s time to end the intransigence in the House of Representatives and get this bill passed.”


Sanders: McConnell is 'dead wrong' to exclude more revenue in deficit debate

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was “dead wrong” when he said that the tax debate is over and now it’s time to cut spending.

“Sen. McConnell is dead wrong when he rules out additional revenue as part of the solution to our deficit crisis,” Sanders said in a statement Monday. “He is also wrong when he suggests the solution to the deficit situation is to cut Social Security, veterans’ benefits, Medicare and Medicaid.”


Coats: Congress should return to work on deficit reduction

Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) called on Congress to return to work Monday to come up with a deficit-reduction plan.

“As the national debt continues to rise, each day wasted is a day closer to our country hitting its borrowing limit,” Coats said in a statement Monday. “Rather than take a break from the Capitol, congressional leaders should immediately call lawmakers back to Washington to begin working now on a long-term deficit-reduction plan to address our unsustainable $16.4 trillion debt.”