Advance funding for VA still an uphill battle

By Rick Maze – Staff writer
Posted : Wednesday May 13, 2009 17:17:45 EDT

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki’s Wednesday testimony before a key congressional panel included a buzzkill for the top priority of veterans service groups — advanced funding for veterans health care programs.Advanced funding is a mechanism, endorsed by President Barack Obama, under which Congress would approve veterans health care budgets one year in advance to avoid any lapse in funding if an annual appropriations bill isn’t approved on time, as often happens.  All major veterans service organizations approve the idea, and have put it at the top of their combined legislative agenda for the year.

Excitement has surrounded the issue recently because the chairmen of the House and Senate veterans’ affairs committees also have backed the initiative, and the 2010 budget spending guideline approved by Congress includes the waivers of budgetary procedures that are necessary for it to be approved.

But as Shinseki appeared before the House appropriations subcommittee responsible for veterans funding to discuss the 2010 budget, Rep. Zach Wamp of Tennessee, the panel’s ranking Republican, rained on the advanced appropriations parade.


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