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Congressman Raul Ruiz

Representing the 36th District of California

President Trump Signs Three of Dr. Ruiz’s Major Legislative Priorities into Law

December 23, 2019
Press Release

Washington D.C. – Today, President Trump signed into law three major legislative priorities of Congressman Raul Ruiz, M.D. (CA-36) – two of which will help servicemembers and veterans affected by toxic military burn pit exposure, with the third provision more than doubling the investment in mental health services for law enforcement officers. With the President’s signature today, Dr. Ruiz has now had four legislative priorities signed into law in 2019.

Passing as part of the bipartisan, $738 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), two pieces of Ruiz’s legislation signed into law aim to end the use of toxic military burn pits. The bipartisan legislation calls on the Department of Defense to produce an implementation plan to phase out the use of active military burn pits and provide a comprehensive list of all locations where the toxic burn pits have been used.

“This is a monumental step forward in our fight to end the use of burn pits once and for all,”said Dr. Raul Ruiz (CA-36). “Having the list of toxic burn pit locations will help VA providers and veterans identify who is at risk for cancers, autoimmune and pulmonary diseases in order to provide treatment quickly and ultimately save lives. I am glad to share this victory with Jennifer Kepner’s family and the servicemembers and veterans affected by toxic burn pit exposure.”

Dr. Ruiz’s amendment to double our nation’s investment in mental health services for local law enforcement officers was also signed into law this week as part of the government funding bill. As a result of Dr. Ruiz’s amendment and continued advocacy, funding for the Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act Grants increased from $2 million to $5 million. The funds will go toward training, peer mentoring, and mental health programs for local law enforcement officers.

“This week we celebrate more than doubling the funds for law enforcement mental health programs to address the higher rates of PTSD, suicide, and depression among peace officers as a result of their extremely stressful experience keeping our communities safe,” said Dr. Ruiz.“This truly was a locally inspired team effort with our local law enforcement leaders.”

Background

Each year, more than three times as many officers die by suicide than by shootings. In addition, officers are five times as likely to experience PTSD and four times as likely to experience depression than the general population.

With the President’s signature this week, Dr. Ruiz now has had four provisions signed into law in 2019, focusing on health care, veterans, and law enforcement needs.

  1. H.R. 1839, the Medicaid Services Investment and Accountability Act of 2019 will strengthen the Medicaid program for children with complex medical needs, protect seniors and people with disabilities, provide funding for mental health and substance use disorder treatment, and crack down on deceptive practices by drug companies. It was signed into law on April 18, 2019.
  2. Dr. Ruiz’s first amendment to H.R. 2500, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020, requires the Department of Defense (DOD) to conduct an implementation plan to phase out the use of the nine active burn pits identified in an April 2019 report to Congress. The NDAA was signed into law Friday, December 20.
  3. Dr. Ruiz’s second amendment to H.R. 2500, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020, directs the DOD to provide Congress and the Veterans Administrationwith a list of the locations of military bases, posts, forward operating bases, combat outposts, and any other locations at which open-air burn pits have been used. The NDAA was signed into law Friday, December 20.
  4. Dr. Ruiz’s amendment to H.R. 1865, the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, and his continued advocacy more than doubled the funding in the Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act (LEMHWA) Programs grants from $2 million to $5 million to improve mental health care, peer mentoring and support, and other mental health programs for law enforcement agencies. President Trump signed the government funding bill Friday, December 20.

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