Gabbard’s First Bill Awaits Obama’s SignatureAugust 2, 2013, 4:43 PM HST (Updated August 2, 2013, 4:46 PM)
The first piece of legislation introduced by US Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has been approved by Congress and submitted to President Obama for his signature.
The Helping Heroes Fly Act expedites airport security screening for wounded and severely disabled veterans and service members.
The bipartisan measure was introduced in March and approved unanimously by the House of Representatives in May.
The bill was introduced in the Senate last week by Sens. Mark Pryor (D-AR) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH).
The bill underwent amendments in that body before being unanimously approved there, which meant it had to come back to the House for one final vote.
That occurred today.
“The passage of this bill today will improve the lives of those who have served our country so bravely,” Gabbard said in a statement.
“This has been a strong bipartisan effort, where Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate came together with unwavering and unanimous support for our wounded warriors and the Helping Heroes Fly Act,” she said.
“This is an example of what can be accomplished when we set aside differences and work together for the good of our nation.”
Gabbard said she introduced the legislation after hearing from advocates of members of the armed forces and veterans themselves about inconsistencies in the screening of wounded warriors by the Transportation Security Administration.
Some gave troubling accounts of having to remove clothing and prosthetics in view of other passengers or having to awkwardly go through screening machines without the benefit of a prosthetic leg or limb.
Rep. Michael McCaul, the Republican chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, called that treatment “offensive and insulting.”
“There is nothing more frustrating than to see these heroes returning home after defending our nation only to have to go through secondary screening in our airports,” McCaul said. “The Helping Heroes Fly Act will put an end to this and treat our wounded warriors with the dignity they deserve.”
“While we’ll never be able to repay our heroic servicemen and women for the sacrifices they’ve made in the line of duty, it should be our top priority to make their lives back home as easy and comfortable as possible,” said Rep. David Joyce (R-OH), a co-sponsor of the legislation.
“Now we’ll be able to ensure that our wounded warriors are able to get through airport security quickly and comfortably and avoid any disruptive or difficult screening practices,” Joyce said.
“America’s servicemen and women are the best and brightest in the world and deserve a comfortable transition back home for protecting the freedoms we enjoy every day.”