Members Call on Bush to Immediately Correct Shortage in Veterans Health Care
June 29, 2005
Washington, DC - Congressman Gene Green (TX-D) joined all 206 House Democrats, in calling on President Bush to address the $1 billion shortfall in veterans health care funding identified by the Administration last week.
Additional funding is urgently needed today to care for troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the heroes from former conflicts who rely upon the VA for their health care, Members wrote to Bush in the letter.
Congressman Green and other Members asked Bush to submit a supplemental appropriations bill to Congress for FY2005 adding at least $1.3 billion to address the shortfall in veterans health care funding now and also called on the President to submit budgets that more accurately meet the needs of our veterans in the future. What is even more troubling is that funding for veterans health care beyond 2007 is cut significantly below the amount needed merely to account for inflation. At a time of war, funding for veterans must be made a clear and unmistakable priority. Members wrote.
Last Friday, the Washington Post reported that the Bush Administration acknowledged that it is short at least $1 billion for covering current needs at the Department of Veterans Affairs this year. The shortfall emerged during an administration midyear budget review and was acknowledged only during lengthy questioning of Jonathan B. Perlin, VA undersecretary for health, by House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Steve Buyer (R-Ind.).
The VA funding shortfall is unacceptable. There has been legislation introduced in the last two Congresses to make Veterans healthcare funding mandatory, said Congressman Green. But the House leadership has refused to bring these bills up for a vote. When VA funding is left up to the whims of lawmakers and used as a bargaining chip in reducing federal spending, this type of situation is always a possibility.
The Department of Veterans Affairs has a lot of explaining to do, continued Congressman Green. President Bush can immediately correct this behavior by asking Congress to approve an additional $1.3 billion for our veterans. Our veterans and our troops deserve nothing less