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Opening Statement of Hon. Ginny Brown-Waite, a Representative in Congress from the State of Florida

Thank you Mr. Chairman. 

I want to thank all of our witnesses here today for testifying before this Committee.

Under current law, the Department of Veterans Affairs’ programs are funded through both mandatory and discretionary spending authorities.  Cash benefit programs like compensation and pensions, survivor and readjustment benefits are examples of mandatory spending programs; whereas, VA healthcare, medical facility construction, medical research and administration costs are examples of discretionary funding.

We are here today to discuss whether it would be financially prudent and in the best interest of veterans across the country to make VA healthcare programs a mandatory spending item.  I know that VA healthcare experienced funding shortfalls in FY 2005 and FY 2006 and that this has led some to believe that in the future VA healthcare should be made into a mandatory spending program. Opinions vary as to whether this change would be a good idea or not, so I look forward to hearing what the witnesses before us today have to add to this debate.    

Once again, I welcome you to the hearing and look forward to hearing your thoughts on the issue before us today.