WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI) was joined by a majority of Committee members in recommending a $380 million increase in discretionary funding above the President’s VA budget proposal. This recommendation came in the Committee’s views and estimates letter on the Fiscal Year 2011 budget for veterans’ programs, submitted to the Senate Budget Committee Friday.
“We can never forget that caring for veterans is a cost of war, and must be treated as such," said Chairman Akaka. "I look forward to working with my colleagues and the Administration to build on the President’s strong VA budget proposal. Our recommendations are for stronger funding to help disabled veterans train for new careers, provide support to family caregivers, and invest in medical and prosthetic research."
Chairman Akaka was joined in signing the letter by the following Committee members: Senators John D. Rockefeller IV (D-WV), Patty Murray (D-WA), Bernard Sanders (I-VT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Jon Tester (D-MT), Mark Begich (D-AK), Roland W. Burris (D-IL), and Arlen Specter (D-PA).
Akaka and co-signers recommended the following additional discretionary investments for veterans programs:
• Upgrading an Aging Hospital Infrastructure: $235 million for VA construction;
• Supporting Family Caregivers: $57 million for a new program to support family caregivers, tied to Akaka’s effort to establish a permanent caregivers support program;
• Helping Disabled Veterans Train for new Employment: $20.5 million for Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment;
• Improving Technology: $30 million for Information Technology;
• Investing for the Future: $25.5 million for VA Research; and
• Strengthening Oversight within VA: $12 million for the Office of Inspector General
Akaka and co-signers also recommended that the budget provide mandatory funding to avoid imposing a Cost-of-Living Adjustment round-down in the coming fiscal year and to support a reasonable increase in the Specially Adapted Housing Grant programs which make it possible for severely disabled veterans to live more independently in residential housing.
Views and estimates are a formal part of the federal budget process, in which Congressional committees recommend funding levels for programs and activities under their legislative jurisdiction. (For the Veterans’ Affairs Committee’s jurisdiction, click here.) The House and Senate Budget Committees review these recommendations when formulating the proposed Budget Resolution for the following fiscal year.
The President proposed to increase VA’s budget by nearly $11 billion for the next fiscal year. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki testified before the Senate last week that this budget will improve the Department’s ability to transform VA into a 21st Century organization and ensure veterans timely access to care and benefits. (To view that hearing, click here.)
The full views and estimates document can be viewed here: LINK.
March 8, 2010