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Veterans' Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2005

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Location: Washington, DC


VETERANS' COMPENSATION COST-OF-LIVING ADJUSTMENT ACT OF 2005 -- (Extensions of Remarks - July 15, 2005)

SPEECH OF HON. JOE BACA OF CALIFORNIA
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
WEDNESDAY, JULY 13, 2005

* Mr. BACA. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to express my extreme disappointment in the mediocre efforts of the Republican administration and leadership to adequately fund the Veterans Administration. Their lack of consideration and foresight led to an enormous shortfall in veterans' health care funding which we must immediately remedy.

* Time after time, the Republican majority has shown our beloved veterans where their priorities lie. For the 2005 and 2006 budgets, they were unwilling to listen to Democrats who have consistently fought for increases for veterans' health care. More than a year ago, my distinguished colleague from Illinois, Mr. Evans, made it known that the funding for the VA would fall immensely short of what is required for proper health services--over $1.3 billion short.

* Despite these figures, the Administration and Republican leadership continued their indifference towards helping our veterans. They were reluctant to admit any shortfall in VA health care funding until recently, when they reversed their position by asking for supplemental funding of $975 million. Still, my Democratic colleagues and I were dissatisfied because it still fell short of the $1.3 billion total that was necessary. Finally, just yesterday, the Bush Administration admitted that an additional $300 million was needed to secure veterans' health care for FY05.

* While it is nice to see that the Republican leadership has finally decided to take care of our veterans, this delayed and belated action is unacceptable. Many VA medical facilities have already been affected by the lack of funds. They have begun cutting nursing and medical staff, closing operating rooms, and not scheduling medical appointments.

* Though many speak of acknowledging the contributions of our veterans, actions speak louder than words.

* It is not enough to thank our veterans for their contributions and then fail to provide them with the fundamental right of access to health care.

* We must continue the work we have seen from the Senate and supplement the budget with an additional $1.5 billion in funding for veterans' health care.

* It is the least we can do for those that have sacrificed to defend our country.

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