Akaka Fears Budget Fails Veterans' Funding Needs

Washington, D.C. -- Today Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI), joined by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), offered a measure to add $1.5 billion for Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Health Care. The amendment failed by a vote of 46 to 54.

Before the vote was cast, Senator Akaka told his colleagues the current Budget resolution does not go far enough to meet the needs for our nation's growing veteran population.

"What is again missing -- in dollars and in deed -- is that this Administration still does not count caring for veterans as part of the cost of war. Defense spending for our service members while in combat has necessarily gone up. Accordingly, so must our commitment to caring for veterans once they return home," stated Senator Akaka.

"We are all too familiar with the scenario last year. VA wildly underestimated the number of younger vets returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. And this year, the Administration thinks even fewer vets will come for care. This is a terrific gamble, as this miscalculation was one of the primary causes of last year's shortfall.

"The Administration's approach -- and the resolution before us -- asks veterans to pay more for their care through increased copayments for medications and a new user fee for middle-income veterans. Our approach, instead, asks for appropriated dollars."

Senator Akaka is the Ranking Member of the Veterans' Affairs Committee.