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National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2006

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NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT FOR FISCAL YEAR 2006

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The Senator from Michigan [Ms. Stabenow], for herself, Mr. Johnson, Mr. Akaka, Mrs. Murray, Mr. Dayton, Mr. Nelson of Florida, Mr. Lautenberg, Mr. Salazar, Mrs. Lincoln, and Mr. Corzine, proposes an amendment numbered 1345.

Ms. STABENOW. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the reading of the amendment be dispensed with.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

(The amendment is printed in the RECORD of July 23, 2005 under ``Text of Amendments.'')

Ms. STABENOW. Mr. President, today's soldiers are tomorrow's veterans, and America has made a promise to these brave men and women to provide them with the care they need and deserve. Senator Johnson and I and others are offering an amendment today to provide full funding for VA health care to ensure that the VA has the resources necessary to provide quality care in a timely manner to our Nation's sick and disabled veterans.

The Stabenow-Johnson amendment provides guaranteed funding for America's veterans from two sources. First, the legislation provides an annual discretionary amount that would be locked in for future years at the 2005 funding levels and, second, in the future, the VA would receive a sum of mandatory funding that would be adjusted year to year based on the changes in demand from the VA health care system and the rate of health care inflation.

This is about whether we are going to fully support our brave men and women who are fighting today and have fought in the past and will fight tomorrow, whether we are going to continue to debate year to year whether there is adequate funding for veterans health care or whether we will make a statement in this bill that part of national defense is making sure that when our men and women come home and put on the veteran's cap, they will, in fact, be assured that the health care they need will be there, not dependent on the Appropriations Committee entirely, not dependent on what happens year to year, but knowing there is a full commitment that we have made to them for veterans health care.

I will speak further at a later time. I understand there are other colleagues who wish to speak on other amendments. I simply ask colleagues to support this very important commitment, keeping our promises to our veterans, starting with the fact that we say very loudly and clearly that veterans health care, in the full amount needed, will be available to each and every one of our brave veterans.

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