MILITARY CONSTRUCTION AND VETERANS AFFAIRS APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2010 -- (House of Representatives - July 10, 2009)
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Mr. FILNER. I thank the Chair. I would like to thank Chairman Edwards and Chairman Obey for the incredible work they have done on this budget for the last, now, 2 1/2 years. As I understand it, we have increased the health care budget in that time 60 percent. In this bill we have raised the health care budget 11 percent; and in a revolutionary kind of approach, I think, we forward fund the health care items for the VA, and the increase is 8 percent. This is an incredible victory for veterans; and we thank, again, Mr. Edwards and Mr. Obey for leading the charge on this.
You know, in the last 22 years I think we've only had the VA budget approved on time in three out of those 22 years. From now on that VA budget will be approved a year in advance. It will make sure that we have timely and adequate funding, for the VA health care system needs to know what its budget is in order to be able to run efficiently and at high quality. So we thank Mr. Edwards for these items. I know there are numerable things in here that we're going to pass that will strengthen health care for our Nation's veterans.
Some of my colleagues may recall that last year we authorized the VA to fund the Office of National Veterans Sports Programs and Special Events at a $10 million authorization which we believe is the appropriate amount to enhance and improve the quality of life for the men and women who have made a tremendous sacrifice for our country. The underlying bill provides $6.5 million, as requested by the administration, but it does not provide the full authorized amount. But what this amount does is it increases the level of funding by $3.5 million. I strongly believe that providing this program the needed funding to assist our injured servicemembers and veterans will enhance and improve the quality of life for these men and women while they heal from their wounds.
Madam Chair, I think all of us have been inspired whenever we have a chance to watch these warrior athletes, those who have been ``disabled''--and I put that in quotes--perform at an incredibly high level in these Paralympics with their training. It obviously strengthens their quality of life and their optimism, but it helps us all as we realize not only do people sacrifice life and limb for their country, but we can provide the resources to make sure that they have a full and productive life. So I ask my colleagues to join me in supporting this amendment.
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