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Bradley Votes for Veterans Appropriations Bill

Location: Washington, DC

Represents an increase of 40% for veterans health care over last five years

This afternoon, First District Congressman Jeb Bradley voted for H.R. 2528, the Military Quality of Life Appropriations Act. The bill passed the House of Representatives with overwhelming support by a vote of 425 to 1. The legislation appropriates funding for various veterans and military construction programs.

"This legislation represents a continued commitment by Congress to provide for those who have served our country so valiantly," said Bradley, a member of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee. "Increasing funding for veterans' health care programs, including mental health programs, is more important than ever now, given the number of our soldiers returning home from combat overseas. I am especially pleased that this legislation does not include the implementation of enrollment fees or an increase in prescription drug co-payments, which I fought to keep out of the budget."

Highlights of the Military Quality of Life Appropriations Act include:

• $31.5 billion for veterans discretionary spending, which includes medical services, an increase of $1.64 billion over last year and a 40% increase in veterans' health care funding over the last five years;
• $2.2 billion for specialty mental health care for veterans, particularly those who are returning from combat areas;
• Requires the Department of Veterans Affairs to complete a comprehensive study on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, focusing specifically on improving mental health research, care, and access to information;
• No enrollment fees or an increase in prescription drug co-payments to off-set costs; and
• $20 billion for the Defense Health Program, an increase of $1.8 billion over last year and a 65% increase over the last five years.

Earlier this session, Bradley offered an amendment during Budget Committee markup to increase new discretionary budget authority for veterans by $229 million in fiscal year 2006 and by $1.15 billion over the next five years. Bradley's amendment, when combined with initiatives proposed by House Budget Committee Chairman Jim Nussle (R-Iowa), increased veterans spending by $877 million over the Administration's proposals.

Once the Senate passes its own version of the bill, the two chambers then must reconcile their differing bills in a conference committee before the legislation goes to President Bush for his signature.

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