The formation of the Veterinary Medicine Caucus comes at an extremely important time, as several vitally important bills relating to veterinary medicine are currently before Congress, according to Kevin Cain, the AAVMC's director of governmental relations.
On March 12, Schrader introduced H.R. 1125, the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program Enhancement Act (VMLRPEA), in the House of Representatives. The legislation provides a federal income tax exemption for financial awards received under the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP). Such awards are currently taxed at 39 percent.
Another pending bill with broad implications for the profession of veterinary medicine is the Farm Bill, which traditionally contains important provisions that affect the quality and availability of veterinary medical services to support both the production and the safety of food in the United States.
Specific appropriations requests before the 113th Congress include continued funding for the Veterinary Medical Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP) and animal health and disease research, including funding through the National Institutes of Health."This is an historic and exciting development for a profession that touches the lives of hundreds of millions of Americans every day," said Dr. Andrew Maccabe, executive director of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC). "We intend to work closely with the caucus, in partnership with the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), to advance the interests of veterinary medicine and raise awareness of the issues that affect us all." The AAVMC, which represents academic veterinary medicine, and the AVMA, which represents the profession as a whole, traditionally work closely together to support federal legislation designed to strengthen the profession and foster programs that protect public health, promote the health and safety of the food supply and provide quality clinical care for family pets. "Not only were we pleased with two veterinarians as part of the 113th Congress, but we are excited to see how they are using their expertise in the newly established Veterinary Medicine Caucus to advance legislation that is important to the veterinary profession," said Dr. Mark Lutschaunig, director of AVMA's governmental relations division. "Given the current budgetary issues on Capitol Hill, it is crucial that legislators realize the important role that veterinarians play in all facets of American lives, from protecting public and animal health to safeguarding our food supply to disease surveillance and research to economic development. With some of these critical programs facing funding cuts, we hope that this caucus will bring awareness to the impact that veterinary medicine has on the everyday lives of millions of Americans and animals." AAVMC and AVMA government relations staff are already working closely with staff in Congressmen Yoho's and Schrader's offices to provide support for existing legislation and to develop strategies for increasing the visibility and effectiveness of the caucus.