Illinois Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn and Congressman Phil Hare (D-Rock Island), a member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, today called on Congress to adopt mandatory funding for veterans health care during a press conference in Springfield.
In the primary election on Tuesday, 1.14 million voters in 23 counties throughout Illinois approved this referendum.
"The people of Illinois have told Congress loud and clear that our nation's veterans deserve to receive the health care they earned by serving our country," Quinn said. "It is time for our elected officials in Washington to do the right thing and approve full mandatory funding for veterans health care."
"Last week, President Bush submitted his eighth consecutive budget that fails to provide enough resources for our wounded warriors," Hare said. "Mandatory funding would ensure that our veterans are not left to the mercy of any Administration or Congress."
Quinn led the statewide call to place the mandatory funding of veterans' health care question on primary ballots. In a personal letter to every county clerk in Illinois, Quinn said the issue is of "paramount importance" to voters.
"I am grateful to Lieutenant Governor Quinn and the people of Illinois for bringing attention to this important issue," Hare said. "We should spare no expense when it comes to caring for the brave men and women who risked their lives for this nation."
Tuesday's results confirm voters' wholehearted support for the measure: The following referendum passed by a vote of 90% or more in every single county:
Question: "Shall the federal government be required to adopt full mandatory funding of the Department of Veterans Affairs for the purpose of ensuring that all eligible honorably discharged U.S. veterans receive quality and accessible healthcare and services?"
Hare is the author and lead sponsor of the Assured Funding for Veterans Health Care Acta bill to make VA health care a mandatory spending item within the federal budget, like Social Security and Medicare. The bill currently has 115 co-sponsors and is strongly supported by the veterans' community, including the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), American Veterans (AMVETS), Blinded Veterans Association, Disabled American Veterans, Military Order of the Purple Heart, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Vietnam Veterans of America, and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.