BERKLEY CALLS FOR IMMEDIATE ACTION TO CLOSE SHORTFALL IN VETERANS FUNDING
Congresswoman Joins Colleagues at Capitol Hill News Conference to Highlight Broken Promises
(July 22, 2005 -- Washington, D.C.) Congresswoman Shelley Berkley (D-NV) joined with leading veterans organizations and members of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee at a news conference to highlight the failure to fully fund the Veterans Administration (VA) . Despite an admission on the part of the Bush White House that this year's VA funding is $1.2 billion short of what is needed, House leaders have failed to allow a vote on Democratic efforts to provide the full amount required to care for America's veterans.
"Southern Nevada's veterans should be outraged that the White House has known for months that VA does not have the funding it needs to care for those who have served in the military. I do not understand the Administration's decision to withhold this information from the very people who control the purse strings. And what is President Bush's answer to the funding shortage that his cabinet created? To charge veterans $250 annually to enroll in VA, to double co-payments for the drugs they are prescribed and to limit services, including payments for nursing home care. I am embarrassed that the White House and the Republican-led Congress would knowingly sacrifice the health of America's military heroes in order to cover their own failure to come clean about funding levels. The President's people have admitted their mistakes, and its time they work with Congress to immediately close the gap in VA funding. America's heroes are counting on us, and we cannot let them down," said Berkley, who serves as a member of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.
Earlier this month the House passed legislation to provide $975 million in additional funding to VA for this year. After telling Congress that amount would be sufficient to meet VA's needs, the Bush White House acknowledged that the sum was inadequate, and asked that $300 million be added to the package. Berkley and fellow members of the Veterans' Affairs Committee are calling for immediate action in the House to increase the funding level to $1.2 billion, the sum needed to cover the shortfall for FY 2005.