The Senate Veteran Affairs Committee today passed a bill co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Mark Begich (D-AK) and John Boozman (R-AR) that would to allow for better planning and management of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and would prevent veterans benefits from being jeopardized in the event of another government shutdown. The Putting Veterans Funding First Act of 2013 will authorize appropriations to be made for future years for VA services.
"I'm pleased that this important bill passed out of the Veterans Affairs committee today and I thank Sen. Boozman for crossing the aisle to make sure our veterans are protected from potential situations like the one that caused the last government shut down," said Begich. "Our veterans deserve every bit of the care, support, and benefits we have promised to them -- with no exception."
"We need to honor our commitment to our veterans. This legislation is a common sense way to fulfill our promise to take care of the men and women who sacrificed for our country and provide them with the services on which they rely by funding them one year in advance, much like we already do with medical accounts," Boozman said.
Washington Headquarters Executive Director Garry Augustine of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) said, "This legislation, sponsored by Senators Begich and Boozman, is a common-sense measure that will benefit millions of our nation's veterans. We applaud their foresight and leadership in championing this legislation that would allow VA to continue delivering benefits and services to wounded, injured and ill veterans regardless of unrelated budget fights."
The Veterans Health accounts have had forward funding, however, as noted by the recent shutdown, veterans benefits, like compensation and pensions and vocational rehabilitation loans programs, and Native American veteran housing loan programs are among the accounts that would be forward funded by this bill. The bill would also provide advanced funding for all VA programs, services and benefits.