Joint Hearing of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs of the U.S. Senate and the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs of the U.S. House of Representatives at 1:00 p.m. CDT.
Miller Praises Budget Deal for Veterans: Amidst difficult choices, it is clear that funding for veterans remains a top priority
Washington, DC—House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman, Jeff Miller, praised the fiscal year 2011 budget deal reached by House Speaker John Boehner and its preservation of critical funding for veterans’ programs. The agreement to keep the government running through the end of the fiscal year would reduce overall spending by $38 billion below fiscal year 2010 levels, but would provide an increase in funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) of roughly six percent.
“Amidst difficult choices, it is clear that funding for veterans remains a top priority,” Miller said. The budget deal includes full year funding for the Veterans Benefits Administration to address the growing disability claims backlog, funding for important medical facility projects, and funding for VA’s National Cemetery Administration. The deal also includes an advance appropriation for fiscal year 2012 that would lock in a near six percent increase in veterans’ medical care. The advance fund for medical care tracks the bipartisan recommendation of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. “With the advance appropriation, veterans will have the certainty of knowing that their care will not be interrupted, and that critical programs to eliminate homelessness, provide additional mental health services, and ensure funding for family caregiver services will move forward,” Miller stated.
Miller also applauded the inclusion of $50 million for additional Department of Housing and Urban Development-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) vouchers for the remainder of the fiscal year. “I worked closely with Secretary Shinseki to fully understand whether additional HUD-VASH vouchers were needed this year, in spite of the fact that the Administration never requested them. He let me know that additional vouchers could, in fact, be used. I’m glad the agreement that was reached reflects that understanding.”
Miller’s next focus will be on full funding of VA for FY 2012. “I’ve seen Chairman Ryan’s budget blueprint and it adopts the Veterans’ Committee’s bipartisan recommendation for VA. Once again, that blueprint is another demonstration of the commitment the House has for veterans’ programs, even in an extraordinarily difficult fiscal climate.”