In 2009, President Obama signed the Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act (Public Law 111-81), which provided VA with a one-year advance budget for healthcare. As a result of this advance funding, veterans were able to continue receiving VA health care services when the federal government shutdown in October 2013. For many veterans, however, the government shutdown caused concern and confusion about whether disability compensation and other benefits would be paid if the government shutdown continued. In addition, claims processing and vocational rehabilitation services were delayed.
VetsFirst supports a bipartisan legislative solution that would provide advance funding for all of VA’s budget. The Putting Veterans Funding First Act (H.R. 813/S. 932) is a common sense solution that would extend advance funding for all VA programs operated with discretionary funding (for example, disability claims processing). To fully protect veterans, however, we also believe that the legislation should be amended to provide advance funding for paying VA disability compensation and other benefits payments. This would ensure that during a prolonged government shutdown veterans disability compensation, pension, and other benefits would continue to be paid.
Veterans should not have to worry whether the VA services and benefits they depend on will be there for them in the event of a government shutdown. We urge Congress to act swiftly in passing the Putting Veterans Funding First Act.
02/26/2014: Senator John Boozman (R-AR) introduced an amendment to S. 1982 to ensure that all remaining VA accounts receive advance appropriations.
02/25/2014: VetsFirst attended a press conference at the U.S. Capitol alongside other veterans service organizations to support passage of full advance appropriations for all VA accounts.
02/03/2014: Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-VT) introduced the Comprehensive Veterans Health and Benefits and Military Retirement Pay Restoration Act (S. 1982). This legislation includes advance appropriations to ensure that VA is able to pay disability compensation benefits in the event of a prolonged government shutdown.
11/19/2013: The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee voted to send S. 932 to the full Senate for further consideration.
10/30/2013: VetsFirst joined other veterans service organizations in a joint letter to President Obama and House and Senate Leadership urging passage of legislation providing for advance appropriations.
09/17/2013: The House Veterans’ Affairs Committee voted to send H.R. 813 to the full House for further consideration.
05/13/2013: Senator Mark Begich (D-AK) and Senator John Boozman (R-AR) introduced the Putting Veterans Funding First Act of 2013 (S. 932).
02/25/2013: House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-FL) and Ranking Member Michael Michaud (D-ME) introduced the Putting Veterans Funding First Act of 2013 (H.R. 813).