Lawmakers in the newly formed Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Caucus hope the coalition can speed reforms for the Veterans Affairs Department by brokering a deal for their respective parties.
“I think this is the perfect caucus to do that kind of work,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., a co-founder of the new group. “We want to move legislation that benefits our veterans. We think a lot of the issues are urgent … and I think there is a ton of common ground.”
Founders of the caucus, launched this week, also include the co-chairs of the Congressional Veterans’ Job Caucus (Sens. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.) and Iowa Republican Sen. Joni Ernst, one of the few Iraq veterans to have served in the chamber.
The group unveiled plans to be a legislative force on VA and military issues at a media event with officials from Student Veterans of America and business leaders from Uber and Starbucks, which recently announced new efforts to hire thousands of veterans and military spouses in coming years.
Kirk said employment will be a main focus of the caucus, explaining that “the best way we can take care of our veterans is by giving them a job.”