Rep. Ralph Hall joined a majority in the House this week in support of legislation that provides funding for the War on Terror and provides assistance to enlisted members of the Armed Forces and to veterans.
The House passed the War & Disaster Supplemental Appropriations bill, which funds operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, including the surge of 30,000 additional troops in Afghanistan. "This vote came none too soon, as the Pentagon would have begun to run out of funds in a week," Hall said. "Passage of this funding bill sends a strong message to our troops on the frontlines that they have the support of America -- and it sends an equally strong message to the enemy that America is resolved to defeat terrorism."
House passage of H.R. 4899 cleared the bill for signing by the President. "This is one time that the President and Republicans in Congress are in agreement," Hall said. The bill provides emergency funding for the war as well as disaster funding for the response to the earthquake and Haiti and the Gulf oil spill. It also includes funding for the Veterans Affairs Department for Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange.
The House also overwhelmingly approved the Military Construction-Veterans Affairs Department appropriations bill for fiscal year 2011. "This bipartisan bill strengthens veterans' health programs in response to the number of wounded military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan," Hall said. The Veterans Health Administration estimates it will treat more than 6.1 million patients in 2011, including about 400,000 veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.
The bill provides compensation for service-connected disabilities, pensions, and burial benefits. It includes funding for new construction of family and military personnel housing as well as operation and maintenance of existing housing.
"The bill also directs the VA to report on last year's rural health initiative to improve access to veterans in rural areas," Hall said. "About 40 percent of enrolled veterans live in rural or highly rural areas -- and many of these reside in the Fourth Congressional District."