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 »
WILL THEY MAKE THE INFRASTRUCTURE PACKAGE?
2,000 High-Risk Dams in Need of Repair
2 hours ago
THE DETAILS

If President Trump gets his wish and Congress delivers him a $1 trillion infrastructure package to sign, engineers will be clamoring to get a number of dams a piece of that pie. "Nearly 2,000 state-regulated high-hazard dams in the United States were listed as being in need of repair in 2015, according to the Association of State Dam Safety Officials. A dam is considered “high hazard” based on the potential for the loss of life as a result of failure. By 2020, 70 percent of the dams in the United States will be more than 50 years old, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers."

Source:
PLEDGES OBAMACARE REPEAL
Pence: White House Is in the “Promise-Keeping Business”
2 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"Over at the White House, I like to say we're in the promise-keeping business these days." That was Vice President Pence's message to CPAC on Thursday night. Specifically, he pledged to repeal and replace Obamacare, and reform the immigration system.

Source:
HAD ATTRACTED A CROWD TODAY
Alt-Right Leader Spencer Removed from CPAC
17 hours ago
WHY WE CARE
SAYS LEFT WILL GO INTO “MELTDOWN”
Cruz Predicts Another SCOTUS Vacancy “This Summer”
21 hours ago
THE LATEST
THE QUESTION
How Many Signatures Has the Petition for Trump’s Tax Returns Received?
23 hours ago
THE ANSWER

More than 1 million, setting a record. More than 100,000 signatures triggers an official White House response.

Source:
×
×

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