Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today called for Department of Veterans Affairs programs to be funded one year in advance to improve planning and avoid service disruptions in any future government shutdowns.
Sanders said Congress should ensure that disability compensation, pensions and education benefits are not disrupted.
"As we saw earlier this month, in the event of a prolonged shutdown, VA would not have been able to issue disability compensation, pension payments, or education benefits. That outcome would have been reprehensible," Sanders said at a news conference with Senate and House colleagues and veterans service organizations.
Congress currently funds only the medical care portion of VA's discretionary budget -- roughly 86 percent of the total -- one year in advance. VA hospitals and clinics continued operating without interruption during the 16-day partial government shutdown earlier this month but other VA programs and services, including claims processing, scaled back operations.
Sanders said the Senate committee will take up legislation by Sens. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) and John Boozman (R-Arkansas).