Veterans Association of America, Inc.
Sunday, October 20, 2019
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Medical Care For Vets

White House Wants More Vet Care
Associated Press
July 13, 2005

WASHINGTON - The White House is poised to ask Congress for $300 million more for veterans health care less than two weeks after assuring lawmakers that $975 million in additional money would be enough for this budget year, a Republican lawmaker said Tuesday.

Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee , said the latest request would arrive on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, and he expressed frustration at what he saw as the Veterans Affairs Departments' apparent inability to produce solid budget estimates.

"The numbers keep going up,"Craig said. "It is getting old." His House counterpart, Rep. Steve Buyer, R-Ind., added, 'It is stunning to me how (The VA ) can have three different opinions in a matter of ... weeks.'

Just three weeks ago, VA officials notified Congress of a shortfall of almost $1 billion in the budget for the veterans health care system. The Senate has since voted twice - most recently on Tuesday - to add $1.5 billion to the almost $28 billion budget for veterans health care, adding the increases to unrelated spending bills for the Interior and Homeland Security departments.

The House has passed a $975 million stand-alone bill just to take care of the VA health care shortfall.

The upcoming administration request would bring its estimate of additional funding needed through Sept. 30 to almost $1.3 billion .

Given the VA's ever-shifting estimates, the Senate is expected to insist on their $1.5 billion level.

Separately, in the latest evidence of Congress' reluctance to accept President Bush's tight budget for domestic programs, a Senate panel Tuesday reversed scores of cuts to the education and health budgets.

But the Senate Appropriations subcommittee responsible for labor, health and education programs managed the feat only by using more than $3 billion that the White House rejected last year.

That means many of the panel's moves - including a $1 billion increase over current funding for health research funded by the National Institutes of Health - may be difficult to sustain when the final House-Senate version of the mammoth spending bill is written this fall.

But for now, the Senate measure, which includes $145.7 billion in spending for programs whose budgets Congress passes each year, contains good news for those hoping for reversals of cuts proposed by Bush and largely accepted by the House when it passed a companion bill last month. The Senate bill contains over $3 billion more than the House bill.