The U.S. Constitution was crafted with the intent of including every citizen in the legislative process. From electing members of Congress to oversight of their work, every citizen has a stake in our government. Good government is the result of engaged citizens. In the words of President Abraham Lincoln, who praised this “government of the people, by the people and for the people,” we, the people, are ultimately responsible for how we are governed.
Legislative Committee 2017-18 Projects powerpoint – 012018 DEC Presentation
A BRIEF LEGISLATIVE HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN LEGION
In 1918, when World War I ended, there was no national veterans hospital system. Compensation authorized for disabled veterans, widows and orphans was inadequate and delayed. Federal administration of veterans programs was in the hands of too many agencies and neglected. All these factors contributed to widespread suffering in the veterans community.
That was the situation The American Legion faced in the winter and spring of 1919. Returning veterans’ physical and financial challenges were considered a national disgrace; to correct them was a national responsibility.
These were problems that required the hand of Congress. The American Legion immediately established a National Legislative Committee, which scored its first success in September 1919 when Congress granted the Legion a permanent federal charter. Over the course of the next few weeks and months, the Legislative Committee championed various laws improving veterans disability and death benefits.
From the beginning, the Legion’s National Legislative Committee (now the National Legislative Commission) has been on the front line every time Congress has been petitioned to enact laws expanding and strengthening benefits for veterans and their families. The American Legion Auxiliary has been a strong and effective partner since its organization in 1921. Sons of The American Legion also has contributed to many legislative achievements.
These victories have never been easy. The Legion has had to stand strong and push back against efforts to erode or destroy veterans programs. Other times, we’ve lost battles – for example, in 1933, the Economy Act nearly eliminated all veterans and dependents benefits. The Legion refused to accept defeat, and the next year, it led a unified campaign that succeeded in restoring most of the disabled veterans benefits taken by the Economy Act.
Since then, the Legion has logged one legislative win after another, starting with the GI Bill – hailed as one of the greatest pieces of social legislation of the 20th century – and securing pensions for surviving spouses and children of war veterans.
In December 2013, Congress reduced military retirees’ cost of living adjustments (COLA) by 1 percent for working-age retirees, which would cost the average E-7 more than $70,000. The American Legion made a legislative blitz and was able to get the provision repealed in just 55 days. In short, the Legion’s leadership has contributed to a stronger America.
From children and youth programs to Americanism, national security and foreign relations, we’ve enhanced and strengthened our nation’s life through the legislation we’ve supported.
HOW DO LEGISLATIVE MANDATES START?
A national legislative resolution may originate in any post where one or more members believe that a law should be enacted, or that an existing law should be amended or repealed. If the resolution is approved by the post, it is referred to the department executive committee or to the next department convention. If adopted, the resolution is forwarded to The American Legion National Headquarters for referral to Legislative Handbook the next national convention or the next meeting of the National Executive Committee.
Legislative resolutions can also originate during national convention standing committee meetings, department conventions or department executive committee meetings. But approval by one of the Legion’s national governing bodies is required before a resolution can become legislative policy.