$8.88 billion More For Veterans Next Year

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Senate Passes Record Funding Bill For VA Operations

Washington, DC– Veterans across the nation will benefit from a record budget increase for a variety of construction projects for the military and Department of Veterans Affairs. The legislation (H.R. 5385 – the Military Construction/Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act) must still be agreed to the by the House before going to the President to become law.

The bill provides nearly $78 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs, which is $8.88 billion above the amount VA received last year.

“I’m pleased that Republicans have led the way in taking care of veterans. This year’s budget is more than 11 percent higher than last year, and is more than 65 percent larger than it was when President Bush was first sworn in,” said Sen. Larry Craig, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. “These large increases cannot continue forever, but we have made a large improvement for veterans in the past few years.”

The legislation includes an amendment Sen. Craig offered which will enable the Department of Veterans to spend up $10 million on individual projects without having to seek specific Congressional authorization. The prior limit was $7 million.

“By increasing the limit, we allow VA officials to move quickly and actually save money. The longer you wait on construction projects, the higher the costs go,” Craig said…

     

Also under this bill, the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims would receive nearly $20 million for fiscal year 2007, a 6.4 percent increase over its 2006 appropriations. This level of funding would allow the Court to increase its staff, continue an electronic case-filing initiative, and continue studying the feasibility of constructing or obtaining a dedicated Veterans Courthouse and Justice Center.

Significant spending accounts include:

Compensation and Pensions: Provides $38.01 billion for compensation and pensions, which is $4.11 billion above the FY06 enacted level.

Medical Services: Provides $28.69 billion for Medical Services, which is equal to the Administration’s request and $4.51 billion above the FY06 enacted level.

Readjustment Benefits: Provides $3.26 billion for Readjustment Benefits, which fully funds the Bush Administration’s request. The readjustment benefits appropriation finances the education and training of veterans and servicepersons whose initial entry on active duty took place on or after July 1, 1985.

Veterans Housing: Provides $196.7 million for the Veterans Housing Benefit Program Fund Program Account, which is $132.1 million above the FY06 enacted level.

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