Mr. HARE. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of H.R. 1016, the Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act of 2009. I would like to thank Chairman Filner for introducing this very important bill.
In the 110th Congress, we gave the VA its largest funding increase in 77 years, and we gave it to them on time; but sadly, punctual VA funding has not always been the case. The VA received its annual funding for health care programs late in 19 of the last 22 years. This record of tardiness is deplorable. With the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the time to fix the broken system is now.
Providing For Concurrence By House With Amendment In Senate Amendment To H.R. 1016, Veterans Health Care Budget Reform And Transparency Act Of 2009
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Late funding is more than a missed deadline. It is a veteran with posttraumatic stress disorder who cannot access the treatment that he or she needs. It's an injured hero who must wait for a prosthetic. It is the VA in disarray at a time when our wounded warriors are counting on the Department's services. That is why, in the last Congress, I introduced the Assured Funding for Veterans Health Care Act.
Like the bill I introduced, advance appropriations is a means to an end. That end is ensuring veterans receive the best care possible from a VA that has access to timely, sufficient, and predictable resources. The legislation we are considering today will do just that. It will allow the VA to effectively budget and manage its health care programs and services, meaning it can hire the appropriate number of doctors, nurses, clinicians, and support staff to meet the demand for high-quality medical care for our Nation's veterans. Anything less is unacceptable.
I would also like to acknowledge and commend Chairmen Obey and Edwards for their strong proactive leadership in putting in an advance appropriation for VA health care in the fiscal year 2010 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill. The bill that we're voting on today has been slightly amended from a version which the House passed earlier this Congress by a margin of 409-1. I enthusiastically support H.R. 1016.
I want to once again thank Chairman Bob Filner for drafting a bill that will ensure that the VA has sufficient, timely, and predictable funding.
Mr. Speaker, I urge all my colleagues to support this legislation.
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