WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI), Chairman of the Veterans' Affairs Committee, and the Democratic and Independent members of the Committee, submitted their views and estimates for the Fiscal Year 2009 Veterans Affairs budget to the Senate Budget Committee. They recommended a $6.6 billion increase in overall discretionary funding over Fiscal Year 2008, of which $4.6 billion would be dedicated to medical care operations. The Majority Members' recommended funding level is $2.6 billion more than what President George W. Bush requested for VA.
"Congress has an obligation to our troops returning from combat now, as well as a long-standing obligation to the veterans of previous wars," said Chairman Akaka. "VA cannot fulfill that obligation without the necessary funding. Taking care of veterans is a cost of war and our recommendation would fill significant gaps in the President's request. I will work with my colleagues to see that veterans' programs get the financial support they need."
The Chairman and Majority members also rejected cuts proposed in the Administration's FY 09 budget proposal. The Administration proposed:
In addition to the proposed cuts, the Administration's request, as it has in previous years, imposed additional fees and costs for veterans receiving health care, including:
"The Administration is once again proposing to charge veterans more for the health care they have earned through their service. The President is also proposing that those new funds be returned to the Treasury instead of VA, an obvious effort to balance the federal budget by taking money from veterans who need medical care," said Chairman Akaka.
"These proposals are unacceptable."
The Chairman and Majority members recommended additional funding in a number of other important areas:
"My colleagues and I believe these funding levels will ensure that VA has the resources necessary to properly serve America's veterans," stated Chairman Akaka.
February 22, 2008