It has been a very busy week in Washington as the U.S. House has been working to reopen the government by calling on President Obama and the Democrat-controlled Senate to sit down at the table and negotiate an end to this situation. The President agreed to do that and talks began Thursday night at the White House. As this newsletter is written, the discussions are continuing and I am hoping to soon report to you that an agreement has been reached.
In the meantime, the House has been passing bills to reopen important government services that citizens depend on. I am pleased to share with you that one of these bills passed by the House is the Honoring Families of Fallen Soldiers Act to be sure that the families of our fallen heroes receive the compensation they have earned. Nothing can compensate for the loss of a loved one, but the benefit will go a long way to helping these families in dealing with their losses.
While this is the right thing to do, this piece of legislation should not have been necessary. The intent of Congress in previously approved legislation was to ensure that the families of our fallen heroes continue to receive the benefits to which they are entitled. President Obama and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel were aware of this and still chose to deny these grieving families what should have been given to them without delay. It was unconscionable for the Administration to inflict pain on these families. This latest action was even more unconscionable than when he barricaded the World War II Memorial and other monuments dedicated to our fallen soldiers. I’m glad the President has reversed course and signed into law a second bill we passed to ensure these soldiers get the recognition and respect they are due. It is only appropriate that these families are now receiving their benefits.
Knowing that so many hardworking federal employees had been furloughed through no fault of their own, the House also passed the Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act to ensure furloughed employees get back to work as quickly as possible and would be paid during this temporary lapse in government services.
Numerous other bills to reopen government services have been passed by the House. These bills include funding for the VA, the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program, and pediatric cancer research through funding the National Institutes of Health. The Senate has so far failed to act on many of these important bills that would restore those government services. I urge the Senate to put politics aside and approve these funding bills which received bipartisan support in the House.
On a positive note, I had the privilege of honoring David and Brandy Fajen of Warsaw as 2013 Angels in Adoption, recognizing their outstanding advocacy of adoption issues and their personal involvement in bettering child welfare. The Fajens were nominated by the staff of the Benton County Children’s Division.
David and Brandy Fajen have opened up their hearts and home to numerous foster children of all ages. Their fostering began as a kinship placement for a friend’s child who was born with severe medical needs. They later adopted this baby, who still requires medical attention, and have gone on to make a difference in the lives of 20 children and teens. They embody the spirit of what it means to be your brother’s keeper.
David works full time as a police officer for the Warsaw Police Department. Brandy owns her own daycare center, the Children’s Palace, in Warsaw.
The Fajens have told me the best part of being a foster parent is feeling that they can make a difference in a child’s life – providing that child with a loving home. I am particularly touched by the Fajens faith and belief in God as their driving force. It was such an honor to welcome them to my Washington office and to take them on a personal tour of the Capitol. They truly reflect the honor bestowed upon them: Angels in Adoption.
Have a great week.