Yesterday, Chairman Jeff Miller (FL-01) and Ranking Member Mike Michaud (Maine-02) introduced the Putting Veterans Funding First Act of 2013. The bill would require Congress to fully fund the Department of Veterans Affairs' discretionary budget a year ahead of schedule, ensuring that all VA services will have timely, predictable funding in an era where continuing resolutions and threats of government shutdowns are all too frequent.
"If there is one thing people in Washington and across America agree on, it's that we should never let funding for veterans become a casualty of Washington gridlock. I'm proud to introduce this bipartisan bill, which would simply enact into law the widely accepted view that America's veterans should not be held responsible for Washington's inability to reach an agreement on how to cut spending. Our veterans were there for us when we needed them the most, and the Putting Veterans Funding First Act of 2013 will ensure they have our support during their time of need." Miller said.
Currently, Congress funds the medical care portion -- roughly 86 percent of VA's discretionary budget -- at the beginning of each fiscal year. Providing the remainder of the discretionary budget -- roughly $8 billion -- up front would make it easier for VA to plan for key investments in information technology, claims processing and construction projects. It would also give Congress a greater level of oversight on multi-year funding proposals, with one year building off of the next. During the 112th Congress, members of the Veterans' Affairs Committee fought to ensure that VA would be completely exempt from cuts under the sequester, and this bill is an extension of those efforts, supporters say.
"Our veterans sacrificed all they had for our protection, now it's up to us to protect the care and benefits they have earned for their service. The Putting Veterans Funding First Act of 2013 is a common-sense approach to ensuring that arbitrary budget cuts won't jeopardize the care and benefits America has promised our veterans, and I am proud to co-sponsor it," Michaud said.