Isakson, Tester Applaud Senate Passage of Bill to Continue Critical Veterans Services, Benefits

Bipartisan bill reauthorizes dozens of VA programs, including support for homeless, disabled veterans; Makes permanent VA employment training authority for injured service members

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Jon Tester, D-Mont., chairman and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, today applauded the Senate passage of bipartisan legislation they introduced to ensure veterans continue to have access to critical programs at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

The Department of Veterans Affairs Expiring Authorities Act of 2018 reauthorizes numerous programs and services at the VA for fiscal year 2019, which begins on Oct. 1, 2018. The legislation ensures that many important programs, including veterans homelessness prevention, adaptive sports programs for disabled veterans, and workforce training for injured service members, continue to be available. A number of authorizations included in the bill were set to expire at the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30, while others were set to expire in 2019.

The Department of Veterans Affairs Expiring Authorities Act of 2018 represents a bipartisan, bicameral agreement reached with U.S. Representatives Phil Roe, R-Tenn., and Tim Walz, D-Minn., Isakson and Tester’s counterparts in the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

“I’m pleased my colleagues in the Senate supported this bipartisan bill to help ensure that vital VA services, such as programs to help homeless, disabled, rural and minority veterans, continue into the new fiscal year,” said Isakson. “I thank Ranking Member Tester, Chairman Roe, Ranking Member Walz and members of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee for their efforts in reaching this bipartisan agreement. The Senate has now passed 21 major pieces of veterans’ legislation this Congress, a remarkable achievement and a true testament to our teamwork. By working together, we are truly making progress for our nation’s veterans.”

“Rural, disabled and homeless Montana veterans rely on these initiatives every day,” said Tester. “By making sure that veterans can get to their doctor appointments on time and get back on their feet, we are making good on the promises we have made to our veterans and their families. This bipartisan agreement shows what Congress can get done when we work together.”

The Senate approved S.3479, the Department of Veterans Affairs Expiring Authorities Act of 2018, by voice vote. The measure now heads to the full U.S. House of Representatives for a vote.

This is the 21st piece of legislation passed by the Senate – including 20 bills that have already been signed into law – that aim to strengthen veterans’ health care, benefits and protections.

A full section-by-section summary of the Department of Veterans Affairs Expiring Authorities Act of 2018 is available here. 

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The Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is chaired by U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., in the 115th Congress. Isakson is a veteran himself – having served in the Georgia Air National Guard from 1966-1972 – and has been a member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs since he joined the Senate in 2005. Isakson’s home state of Georgia is home to more than a dozen military installations representing each branch of the armed services as well as more than 750,000 veterans.

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