November 30, 2021

President Biden signs veterans’ maternal health bill sponsored by Rep. Underwood, Sen. Duckworth

GOP Illinois Rep. Rodney Davis, seeking another House term, announced the backing of two GOP House incumbents from Illinois, Darin LaHood and Mike Bost.

Source: Chicago Sun-Times


WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden on Tuesday signed a bill requiring the Department of Veterans Affairs to improve maternal health for vets, legislation Illinois Democrats Sen. Tammy Duckworth and Rep. Lauren Underwood championed, earning enough GOP support that it was waved through the House and Senate.

“It’s an important step in making sure we meet the needs of American mothers who have served,” Biden said at a bill-signing ceremony Duckworth and Underwood attended.

Getting a stand-alone bill passed is fairly tough. Most often the guts of a single bill, if it is on track to advance, is absorbed as a section of a larger piece of legislation. Even if the proposal is not controversial, it’s fate often depends on other matters in the broader bill.

Biden signed the stand-alone “The Protecting Moms Who Served Act of 2021” along with three other veteran-related bills on Tuesday.

The Senate passed the “protecting moms” measure on an expedited “unanimous consent” basis, meaning there was broad agreement it should pass, so the Senate didn’t need to take up time with a roll call vote. The House approved it on a voice vote .

Underwood and Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fl., were the original co-sponsors in the House, and Duckworth teamed with Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine in the Senate.

Underwood, a nurse, has made issues relating to maternity, especially among Black women, a centerpiece of her legislative agenda. Duckworth is an Iraq war vet, on the Armed Services Committee, a former top official in the VA and an ex-director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs.

The bill requires the Department of Veterans Affairs to launch a maternity care coordination program “with respect to the unique needs of pregnant and postpartum veterans, particularly regarding mental and behavioral health conditions in relation to the service of the veterans in the Armed Forces.”

The Government Accountability Office will study, for the first time, maternal death rates and illness of pregnant vets, “with a focus on racial and ethnic disparities in maternal health outcomes for veterans.”

By:  Lynn Sweet