Congress Wants to Shield Veterans From Another Government Shutdown

Lawmakers push for advance funding for VA.

National Journal
Jordain Carney
Add to Briefcase
Jordain Carney
March 13, 2014, 3:08 p.m.

Dur­ing the last gov­ern­ment shut­down, law­makers feared vet­er­ans were days away from not re­ceiv­ing their dis­ab­il­ity checks.

Hop­ing to pre­vent a sim­il­ar pre­dic­a­ment, mem­bers of a House com­mit­tee pressed Thursday for full fund­ing for the Vet­er­ans Af­fairs De­part­ment’s dis­cre­tion­ary budget a year ahead of sched­ule.

Cur­rently, only the de­part­ment’s health care ser­vices are fun­ded a year in ad­vance.

“This com­mit­tee is again try­ing to look down the road and provide ad­vanced ap­pro­pri­ations au­thor­ity for the re­main­ing 14 per­cent of the De­part­ment of Vet­er­ans Af­fairs’ dis­cre­tion­ary budget,” said Rep. Mi­chael Michaud, the rank­ing mem­ber of the House Vet­er­ans’ Af­fairs Com­mit­tee, at a hear­ing about the de­part­ment’s budget re­quest.

The Vet­er­ans Af­fairs De­part­ment is ask­ing for $164 bil­lion for its total 2015 fisc­al year budget, a 6.5 per­cent in­crease over the cur­rent fisc­al year.

Mem­bers on both sides of the aisle and mul­tiple out­side groups back giv­ing ad­vanced ap­pro­pri­ations to the de­part­ment. Pro­ponents ar­gue that it would give the de­part­ment and vet­er­ans great­er cer­tainty, par­tic­u­larly in re­gard to mak­ing be­ne­fits pay­ments dur­ing a gov­ern­ment shut­down.

But ef­forts to get ad­vance fund­ing for the rest of VA’s budget have stalled. Michaud and com­mit­tee Chair­man Jeff Miller in­tro­duced the Put­ting Vet­er­ans Fund­ing First Act, which passed the House Vet­er­ans Com­mit­tee but has lan­guished be­fore the full body.

A sim­il­ar push was in­cluded in Sen. Bernie Sanders’s wide-ran­ging vet­er­ans le­gis­la­tion, but that bill failed to pass a pro­ced­ur­al vote, and the bill is es­sen­tially on hold as the Ver­mont in­de­pend­ent tries to garner more Re­pub­lic­an sup­port.

Dur­ing Thursday’s hear­ing, Flor­ida Demo­crat Rep. Cor­rine Brown backed giv­ing the de­part­ment full ad­vance fund­ing and asked Vet­er­ans Af­fairs Sec­ret­ary Eric Shin­seki to weigh in.

Al­though Shin­seki didn’t re­ject the idea, he stressed that ad­vance ap­pro­pri­ations wouldn’t let the de­part­ment avoid all of its prob­lems if the gov­ern­ment shuts down again.

“We still have to go to the So­cial Se­cur­ity agency to val­id­ate oth­er dis­ab­il­it­ies pay­ments. We have to go IRS to val­id­ate threshold in­come levels,” Shin­seki said. “…This is a big­ger dis­cus­sion in some as­pects than just the VA budget.”

In­stead, Shin­seki re­it­er­ated a fa­mil­i­ar Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion talk­ing point: “What would be most help­ful to VA, [is] for “¦ the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment to get a budget every year.”

What We're Following See More »
CONFIRMATION SHOULD BE SWIFT
Ambassador Nominee: Russia Meddled in Election
5 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"President Donald Trump’s nominee to be ambassador to Russia was unequivocal Tuesday in calling out the federation’s interference in the 2016 election in the United States. 'There is no question—underline no question—that the Russian government interfered in the U.S. election last year, and Moscow continues to meddle in the democratic processes of our friends and allies,' Jon Huntsman Jr., told the Foreign Relations Committee."

Source:
AT U.N. TRUMP CALLS NUCLEAR DEAL AN “EMBARRASSMENT”
New Iran Policy Coming Next Month?
6 hours ago
THE LATEST
WILL NOW SUBPOENA HIM
Senate Intel Committee Cancels Cohen Meeting
6 hours ago
THE DETAILS
“MASSIVE SOURCE OF EMBARRASSMENT”
Trump Calls Out U.N. Members for Human Rights Violations
7 hours ago
THE LATEST
LEVELS AN IMPLICIT THREAT AT NORTH KOREA
Trump Calls Kim “Rocket Man” at U.N.
7 hours ago
THE LATEST
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login