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Opening Statement of Hon. Bob Filner, Chairman, and a Representative in Congress from the State of California

Welcome to Capitol Hill Commander Barton.  As you know, the Committee did not hold joint legislative hearings last year for the VSOs.  Reinstituting this very important hearing was one of the first things I did as Chairman.  We are certainly looking forward to hearing your organization’s legislative agenda for 2007.

Before we start, I would like to extend my complements to the DAV Washington staff and to tell you, Commander, what a pleasure it is to work with them.    

Commander Barton, as you know, the VA submitted a budget that calls for an increase for veterans’ medical care, somewhat of a departure from past submissions.  Our job as a Committee is to make sure that as we analyze this “landmark” budget request, as it is so often characterized, we are not led off course and lose our way.  

To their credit, the VA has requested an increase for VA medical care of $1.9 billion over the level provided for in the joint funding resolution.  The fiscal year 2008 request does, I believe, present us a framework from which we can begin to address the pressing needs of veterans.   

Commander, I would like to hear your thoughts not only on the VA budget for fiscal year 2008, but the other legislative priorities of the Disabled American Veterans.

Before we hear from you, Mr. Commander, I will yield five minutes to the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, Senator Akaka.  Mr. Chairman.