Rubio Introduces Rooney Veterans Bill in Senate
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced the Preventing Crimes Against Veterans Act (S.3357), the Senate counterpart to Congressman Tom Rooney’s (R-FL) legislation that unanimously passed the House of Representatives in April. The bill establishes codified penalties for individuals who scam veterans by charging a fee to fast-track claims for U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) services, something currently banned by federal law but with no criminal or financial penalty associated with it.
“One of the most sickening things I’ve encountered as my office has worked with veterans seeking assistance is these scammers ripping off the men and women who serve our country and going after their VA benefits. They target veterans in assisted living facilities and those with low incomes, which is disgusting,” said Rubio. “I’ve introduced this legislation to crack down on criminals who prey on our veterans; because we should be doing everything we can to protect them and their benefits from scams.”
A despicable breed of financial predators have been advertising themselves to the veterans community claiming that, for a hefty fee paid by the veteran, they can speed up the claims process with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Although it is illegal under existing law for anyone who is not an approved agent to charge a fee for helping a veteran with a claim or an appeal with the VA, there is no criminal or financial penalty associated with breaking the law. The Preventing Crimes Against Veterans Act will both deter and penalize fraudsters that blatantly engage in a scheme to defraud a veteran (or his or her survivor or spouse) of his or her benefits by imposing a fine, imprisonment of up to five years, or both.
Rooney’s version of the legislation passed the House with unanimous, bipartisan support in April. “The state of Florida has one of the highest concentrations of veterans in the country and it is our responsibility to write laws that penalize individuals who scam veterans out of their well-deserved benefits,” said Rooney, an Army veteran and member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs. “I’m grateful that Senator Rubio has introduced the Senate version of my bill to help put a stop to these financial predators and I am hopeful that we can see this bill be signed into law.”