(April 28, 2015) Tomorrow the House of Representatives will vote on a funding bill for the Department of Veterans Affairs. Unfortunately, this bill underfunds VA’s medical care, major construction and Information Technology accounts by more than $1.5 billion below the Administration’s request.
American Legion National Commander Michael D. Helm expects Congress to pass a budget that won’t shortchange the Department of Veterans Affairs.
“Regardless of political gamesmanship being played between Congress and the White House, The American Legion expects VA to be fully funded,” Helm said. “We agree with Secretary McDonald that cutting his department’s budget by more than a billion dollars is unacceptable.”
The Office of Management and Budget has already warned that such a reduction would shortchange investments in veterans’ health care. That claim was bolstered by McDonald’s testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee on April 21. He said the proposed spending cuts would impede VA’s mission at a time when more veterans are seeking medical care and benefits.
Helm said VA’s weaknesses in management, wait-time delays and claims processing have been heavily scrutinized by Congress, which expects great improvement from VA.
“Why would Congress try to undercut VA’s efforts to improve its services to our veterans by taking away funding that is so obviously needed?” Helm asked. “The appropriations committees should be finding ways to add money to VA’s budget, which is exempt from sequestration.”
If approved, the budget cuts would deny medical care to the equivalent of 70,000 veterans and eliminate funding for four major construction projects in St. Louis, MO., Perry Point, MD., and Alameda and French Camp, CA.
We need your help to ensure VA is fully funded so it can provide the care and services veterans have earned and need. Let them know that reducing VA’s budget will have a negative effect on the timeliness and quality of care that veterans will receive. Fully funding VA must be a very high priority for Congress!