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Congressman Salazar: "Providing for Veterans is Cost of War"

Location: Washington, DC


Majority Leadership Blocks Salazar's Attempt to Fund Veterans Health Care

WASHINGTON, DC - After a week long effort which included gathering the support of more than 100 Members of Congress, Congressman John Salazar's plan to include funding for veterans health care as part of the Iraq War Supplemental was denied a fair vote last night. The bill currently contains no funds for direct medical services for veterans and military families.

"This Administration needs to recognize that providing for our veterans and military families is a continuing cost of war," said Salazar. "There is no better place to include funding for our veterans and military families than in the bill addressing the costs of the war. Our troops bravely put their lives on the line and it is our moral duty to provide them with the care and benefits they were promised."

Last week, Salazar gathered the support of 127 Members of Congress to add $630 million in veteran's health care funding as part of the bill to authorize emergency funds for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. When the funds were not added in committee discussions, Salazar introduced an amendment on the Floor of the House of Representatives during debate on the bill. But debate on Salazar's amendment was blocked on a technical point of order and was denied a vote by the Majority Leadership.

"It is shameful for the Administration and the Majority Leadership to hide behind a technicality when our veterans and military families are in need," said Salazar. "Why are we not preparing for the future? Why are we willing to let the VA's funding run out each year? Why is this Administration not willing to fully account for the true costs of war? It's high time we stop paying lip service to our veterans and recognize that caring for veterans and military families is an ongoing cost of war."

As the newest Member on the House Veteran's Affairs Committee, Salazar has been dedicated to full funding veteran's health care once and for all. The Veteran's Administration has acknowledged that 2006 will bring the worst fiscal burden yet. The VA originally projected it would treat 110,000 returning Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom veterans this fiscal year. By the end of January, the VA had already treated 74,000 veterans. At this rate, the VA will have to treat twice the number of veterans than projected.

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