March 9, 2006
Media contact: Jeff Schrade (202)224-9093

(Washington, DC) The Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs once again reassured veterans that funding for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will continue to increase to meet the needs of veterans across the nation.

"Ten years ago, at a hearing held by this committee, I asked then-Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jesse Brown about the then-Clinton budget for VA. They had a plus-up, and then it appeared their budget showed a dramatic decline for VA in the outer years," Craig said. "History has shown us that didn't happen."

In fact, in 1996, the budget for VA was $38.1 billion. The VA's budget for this year is $73 billion, and for 2007, President Bush has proposed a record budget for veterans of over $80 billion.

[To see pictures from the hearing, click on: 2006 - March 9 - PVA, BVA, JWV, NCOA, MOPH.]

The Veterans' Affairs Committee chairman has said that he believes the VA budget may approach $100 billion a year by the time President Bush leaves office.

"What I'm going to ask you, after the numbers are in place, is to dialogue with me, and other members, about not just the 2008 budget, and the 2009 budget, but focus beyond 2010. We all need to look out beyond the headlights, so to speak," Craig said.

The Veterans' Committee chairman noted unless changes are made to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, by 2030 ? just 24 years from now ? those three programs will crowd out all other federal spending.

"We clearly have work to do when it comes to these budgets. But as long as I have my hand on the tiller, folks at VA are going to hustle, and we are going to see to it that all the money the VA has is spent wisely," Craig said.


He made his remarks Thursday at a hearing held to review the legislative concerns of five veterans service organizations (VSOs): Paralyzed Veterans of America, Blinded Veterans Association, Jewish War Veterans, Non-Commissioned Officers Association, and the Military Order of the Purple Heart.

The hearing can be viewed online and the prepared remarks of each of the witnesses can be read at the committee's website.  Click on:

Hearing On Legislative Presentations of the Paralyzed Veterans of America, the Blinded Veterans Association, the Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America, the Non-Commissioned Officers Association, and the Military Order of the Purple Heart