Congressman Keller leads effort to support veterans during special order on House Floor

October 26, 2021
Press Release

Washington, D.C. Last evening, Congressman Fred Keller (PA-12) led a special order on the House Floor with six of his Republican colleagues to bring attention to the veterans’ records backlog at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC), an issue that is preventing America’s veterans from obtaining critical benefits that they earned through their service. Participating members also highlighted the RECORDS Act as a solution, legislation introduced by Congressman Keller that would direct the NPRC to fully re-open and develop a comprehensive plan to tackle the backlog of veterans’ records requests.

 

The National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) is the federal entity responsible for processing  documentation and records requests necessary for veterans to access VA benefits, adjudicate disability  claims, and request a commendation, award, or regalia. The NPRC cut its operations during the pandemic, resulting in a backlog of more than a half a million requests, some dating back to February of 2020.

 

Representatives Scott Perry (PA-10), Andrew Clyde (GA-09), Mike Kelly (PA-16), Glenn Grothman (WI-06), Kat Cammack (FL-03), and John Rutherford (FL-04), all co-sponsors of the RECORDS Act, participated in Keller’s special order. Each member highlighted how this issue is impacting veterans in their districts back home.

 

Congressman Keller kicked off the 30-minute special order with opening remarks.

 

(Click to watch)

 

“My distinguished colleagues and I stand here on behalf of America’s veterans. the last thing our veterans should be burdened with is any delay, let alone a prolonged wait time, to access the benefits and programs they have earned through their service.”

 

Congressman John Rutherford (FL-04):

 

(Click to watch)

 

"Unfortunately, the National Personnel Records Center is still today not fully open...This has prevented caseworkers in my office from properly assisting my constituents in a timely manner."

 

Congresswoman Kat Cammack (FL-03):

 

(Click to watch)

 

"If the National Personnel Records Center do their job and still feel no shame in letting veterans' care lapse while their needed records requests go unfulfilled...then it is time for us in Congress to intervene."

 

Congressman Andrew Clyde (GA-09):

 

(Click to watch)

 

"The Center is behind in its work. With the pandemic, the backlog to obtain military records jumped from 56,000 to over 500,000 requests. That's a ten-fold increase."

 

Congressman Mike Kelly (PA-16):

 

(Click to watch)

 

"This is not just a request. This is honoring the service of those who have given all to defend this country...All they’re asking for is for their records to be processed in the right time so they can receive their benefits."

 

Congressman Glenn Grothman (WI-06):

 

(Click to watch)

 

"For over a year now, the National Personnel Records Center has been operating at well under capacity. This is an insult to our veterans."

 

Congressman Scott Perry (PA-10):

 

 

(Click to watch)

 

"The least we can do is take care of those who have safeguarded our freedoms...and the only thing that stands between them and that care is accessing their records."

 

Background:

 

Since last November, Congressman Keller has been leading the effort in Congress to pressure the NRPC to take all necessary actions to eliminate the growing backlog of unprocessed records requests. He and several bipartisan colleagues have repeatedly called for the NPRC to work with Congress toward a solution.

 

This April, Keller sent a letter to David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)—which manages the NPRC—requesting immediate action to eliminate the backlog and demanding information about the administration’s plans to expedite veterans’ records requests.

 

In May, Keller participated in the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs’ Member Day hearing to share the frustrations he has heard from constituents related to the backlog of unprocessed requests.

 

In June, Keller introduced the RECORDS Act, legislation that directs the NPRC to fully re-open to pre-pandemic staffing levels and issue a report to Congress on efforts to eliminate the backlog. The bill has since attracted 57 cosponsors.

 

In July, Keller and Oversight Committee Ranking Member James Comer (KY-01) led a letter to Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, calling for an immediate hearing on the matter.

 

In September, Keller introduced an amendment during the Oversight Committee’s budget markup to authorize $10 million in emergency funds to equip NARA to quickly address the backlogged requests. The amendment passed by a voice vote.

 

 

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