U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler talked veterans affairs, sequestration and gay marriage with reporters on Wednesday following a stop at the Sedalia Tyson plant.
Hartzler, the 4th District Republican, met with Tyson officials on Wednesday afternoon and credited the plant with helping keep the local agricultural economy strong.
“We got to learn more about their operation and management and speak to some of the employees and learn more about the great things going on here,” Hartzler said. “It is wonderful to see a large employer like this that is having such a big impact on the economy, the local community and the farming community. That is what we need more of — some good job creation,” Hartzler said.
Hartzler went on to address a growing backlog of veterans’ claims with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, now numbering in the hundreds of thousands.
“We have over 60 percent of claims taking over 125 days to get a determination and it is not unusual for it to take years,” Hartzler said. “That is just unacceptable.”
Hartzler said she met with the undersecretary responsible for veterans’ claims, who told the administration is attempting to resolve computer issues but is “running into all kinds of problems.”
“I urged her to treat this as a priority because our men and women who have served our country deserve better than they are getting,” Hartzler said.
With forced sequestration cuts and budget negotiations ongoing, Hartzler said the House of Representatives passed a continuing resolution that should head off furloughs for civilian employees of the Department of Defense at Whiteman Air Force Base and Fort Leonard Wood.
“As part of our continuing resolution that we passed last week and that will fund the government to the end of the year, we gave the Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration and some of the other departments some latitude in how they spend their money and that did result in an additional $10 billion going to the Department of Defense. They have announced they will use it to prevent the furloughs and put those off by at least two weeks.
“At that point they will assess that and see if they need to move forward with that,” Hartzler said.
She said the new House budget replaced defense cuts for next year.
“That way we can make sure our military will have the resources they need,” Hartzler said. “Once we start negotiating with the Senate, that is certainly a priority of mine.”
Hartzler also weighed in on arguments before the Supreme Court of the United States over the issue of gay marriage. Hartzler helped lead the successful passage of a 2004 state constitutional amendment that barred the marriage of same-sex couples.
She said she hopes the high court will uphold the federal Defense of Marriage Act passed in 1996.
“I believe it is wrong for nine unelected judges to overrule the will of the people in the states so I hope they will not do that,” Hartzler said. “I personally support and think it is a wise policy to have marriage between a man and a woman. I think it would be wrong for the Supreme Court to overrule the will of the people and impose their version of marriage policy on everyone else.”