House GOP Leadership Again Turns Its Back on Our Veterans

June 6, 2018
Press Release
Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions Blocks Blumenauer Amendment to Allow VA Doctors to Recommend Medical Marijuana

Washington, DC – Congressman Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), founder and co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, today condemned House Republican leadership for blocking his amendment to make it easier for qualified veterans to access state-legal medical marijuana. The vote by the House Rules Committee—led by Chairman Pete Sessions—prevents Blumenauer from offering the amendment when the House considers the FY 2019 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill later this week. 

Last year, the amendment was blocked by Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions. In 2016, the amendment passed on the House floor by 233-189, but was ultimately stripped out of the final legislation that became law.

Blumenauer released the following statement:

“For the second year, Pete Sessions has shown that he does not care about the health and well-being of our veterans—who are speaking out across the country. All they want is fair and equal treatment, and the ability to consult with their own physician on all treatment options. By blocking this vote, Chairman Sessions has turned his back on our wounded warriors, commonsense, and the will of the American people. He should be ashamed.”

The bipartisan amendment was co-sponsored by Reps. Justin Amash (R-MI), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), Joseph Crowley (D-NY), Matthew Gaetz (R-FL), Dina Titus (D-NV), Walter Jones (R-NC), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Tom McClintock (R-CA), Lou Correa (D-CA), Tom Reed (R-NY), Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Donald Young (R-AK), Peter DeFazio (D-OR), and Mark Sanford (R-SC).

The Rules Committee also blocked an amendment offered by Blumenauer that would ensure veterans have continued access to health benefits offered by the VA when they use marijuana in compliance with state law.

Background on the Veterans Equal Access Amendment:

Currently, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) specifically prohibits its medical providers from completing forms allowing a qualified veteran to participate in a state medical marijuana program. This forces veterans out of the VA system to seek a simple recommendation for treatment for eligible conditions under state laws.

Blumenauer’s Veterans Equal Access amendment ensures that no funds made available to the VA can be used to implement this prohibition, which would, in effect, strike it down.