U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., is hoping the third time is the charm for his “Preventing Crimes Against Veterans Act” which passed the U.S. House without opposition last week.
Back in 2016, then U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Fla., and Deutch brought out the “Preventing Crimes Against Veterans Act” with then U.S. Rep. David Jolly, R-Fla., as a co-sponsor of the bill. The House passed the bill in a 411-0 vote later that year but the Senate version, which was sponsored by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., did not pass before the start of the new Congress. The same thing happened again last year.
The bill proposes increasing penalties on conmen targeting veterans by charging illegal fees for help in appealing a claim with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. If the bill becomes law, violators would face fines and prison sentences up to five years.
With U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows, R-NC, now as the main cosponsor, Deutch got the bill passed on a 417-0 vote last week.
“After veterans and their families have made such sacrifices for our country and our national security, it is so deeply reprehensible that people would seek them out to defraud them with these scams,” Deutch after the vote on Thursday. “Congress must put a penalty to the crime so we can discourage this predatory behavior. Let’s close this despicable loophole and protect our veterans from pension poachers and fraudsters.”
“Congress has both a responsibility and an obligation to step up and protect our veterans against financial predators,” Meadows said. “Closing loopholes in existing laws and providing law enforcement with additional tools to crack down on criminals targeting veterans’ benefits will be a needed reform to the process. It would send a loud and clear message of support to those who have served our country so faithfully and guard them against any effort to rob them of their hard earned benefits. I thank all my colleagues for their support and want to thank the gentleman from Florida, Ted Deutch, the lead Democratic cosponsor, for his leadership on this important measure.”
Now the question is can Rubio and other backers get it over the finishing line in the Senate though there is no version in that upper chamber yet.