WASHINGTON, D.C. – With Congress’s unanimous approval this week, legislation to secure timely and predictable funding for the veterans’ health care system now awaits the President’s action. Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii), chief sponsor of the Senate bill, applauded his colleagues and urged President Barack Obama to quickly sign it into law. Akaka introduced the measure in the Senate with the backing of leading veterans service organizations, shepherded the bill through the Committee, secured the backing of a majority of the Senate and negotiated the final version which is now headed to the White House.
“We are one step away from securing timely, predictable, and transparent funding for the veterans’ health care system, for the millions of veterans who rely on VA for care and the nation that is indebted to them. I applaud my colleagues in the House and Senate for supporting this important measure, and I thank the veterans service organizations that came together to help us bring this bill to the President’s desk.
“President Obama cosponsored my advance funding legislation when he served on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee and made good on his promise to support it this year. I look forward to him signing this bill into law. I urge him to do so soon," said Akaka.
The Senate passed the Veterans’ Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act of 2009 by unanimous consent Tuesday night. The legislation would secure funding for veterans’ health care one-year in advance of the regular appropriations process. It would ensure transparency in the funding process by requiring public reports and GAO audits on VA’s funding forecasting. Currently, VA is funded year-by-year; a process which has resulted in late funding 20 of the past 23 years. VA operates the largest health care system in the nation, providing care for millions of wounded and indigent veterans.
October 16, 2009