Senate Passes Tester, Moran Legislation to Reauthorize Key Veteran Support Programs

Legislation would extend select authorities within the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee’s jurisdiction into the next fiscal year, to ensure a smooth continuation of programs to support veterans

(Big Sandy, Mont.) – U.S. Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.)—Ranking Member and Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee—today applauded the Senate’s passage of their Department of Veterans Affairs Expiring Authorities Act of 2020, which passed as part of the Continuing Resolution to fund the government.

This legislation would extend select authorities within the committee’s jurisdiction into the next fiscal year to ensure a smooth continuation of these programs.

“Veterans deserve to have their government in their corner fighting tooth and nail to provide them with the resources and benefits they’ve earned,” said Ranking Member Tester. “Senate passage of our bipartisan bill sends a clear message that we’re making good on the promises we’ve made to veterans and their families—especially those who are disabled or homeless—by reauthorizing critical programs that will help them transition to civilian life, pursue an education, and lead successful lives even during the COVID-19 crisis.”

“Thousands of veterans depend on the programs offered by the Department of Veteran Affairs to help combat homelessness, pursue an education and much more,” said Chairman Moran. “This legislation helps these programs seamlessly continue into the next fiscal year to prevent disrupting veterans’ lives, especially during this global pandemic.”

Tester successfully secured the following authorities:

  • Two-year extension to make grants to veterans service organizations for transportation of highly rural veterans. Tester initially authored this language in his bipartisan Rural Veterans Travel Enhancement Act of 2019.
  • Two-year extension and authorization of appropriations for pilot program on counseling in retreat settings for women veterans newly separated from service. Tester initially authored this language in his bipartisan Deborah Sampson Act.
  • Ten-year authorization for a pilot program on graduate medical education and residency. Tester initially authored this language in his landmark VA MISSION Act.
  • One-year extension of temporary expansion of payments and allowances for beneficiary travel in connection with veterans receiving care from vet centers. Tester initially authored this language in his bipartisan Rural Veterans Travel Enhancement Act of 2019, which includes language authorizing a program in Kalispell.
  • One-year extension of certain COVID-19 related funds for veterans’ education programs. Tester worked on behalf of Montana student veterans to secure this language.
  • Two-year extension to transport individuals to and from Department of Veterans Affairs facilities. Tester initially authored this language in his bipartisan Rural Veterans Travel Enhancement Act of 2019.
  • Two-year extension of appropriations for homeless veteran reintegration programs. Tester initially authored this language in The Homeless Veterans' Reintegration Program Improvement Act.
  • Extended authority for a temporary increase of two judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, to preserve the courts’ ability to expedite veterans’ appeals in a timely manner.