Veterans program funding ends up a winner in debt limit deal


Category:  News & Politics

Via:  evilgenius  •  4 months ago  •  8 comments

By:   Leo Shane III (Military Times)

Veterans program funding ends up a winner in debt limit deal
Veterans program funding would see an increase in fiscal 2024, unlike most other non-defense spending.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T

Funding for veterans programs would go from being one of the most contentious spending debates on Capitol Hill to a bipartisan budget highlight under the debt limit deal set to be voted on by lawmakers this week.

Unlike most non-defense agencies, which will see cuts or flat budgets under the terms of the plan, the Department of Veterans Affairs would see a significant bump in spending in fiscal 2024, in line with both White House and House Republican appropriators' plans.

That's significant, because Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill over the last month have accused each other of politicizing veteran support and jeopardizing funding needed to maintain services provided through the department. The new deal wipes away most of that debate, locking in an increase of about 6% in veterans spending for next year.

Debt ceiling agreement locks in Biden's proposed defense budget The White House and House Republicans reached a debt ceiling agreement that increases the defense budget by 3.3% while cutting non-defense spending. By Bryant Harris

On Tuesday, the White House released a statement urging Congress to pass the agreement as soon as possible, noting in part that it "fully funds veterans' health care and our obligations under the historic PACT Act."

Similarly, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed published Sunday, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said the debt limit deal curbs wasteful government spending while "meeting our obligations to our veterans" by increasing money for those programs.

Under the plan, which will be considered in the House and Senate in coming days, total VA spending would increase to more than $320 billion, up from about $300 billion in the current fiscal year.

White House officials and Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee had said those increases would help support expanded medical care, mental health care, support for homeless veterans and a host of other programs.

One area where the group's plan differed, however, was the Toxic Exposures Fund, created as part of the sweeping Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act — or, PACT Act — last summer.

The fund assigns mandatory federal funding to cover the costs of benefits for veterans suffering illnesses stemming from toxins like burn pit smoke and chemical exposure. President Joe Biden had asked for about $20 billion in his budget request, money that would be protected somewhat from the annual budget process.

House Republicans countered in their budget draft with less than $5 billion in mandatory funds, and the rest left in the annual discretionary budget. They argued that forcing the extra money into the fund represented budgeting gimmickry.

But the full $20 billion would be locked into the Toxic Exposures Fund as part of the debt limit deal, taking the issue off the table for the rest of this summer's budget debates.

GOP's proposed vets benefits change kicks off new lawmaker slugfest Republican lawmakers want changes to a fund designed to protect money for veterans benefits payouts. By Leo Shane III

In a series of social media posts on Sunday, VA Secretary Denis McDonough said that level of funding "will allow VA to continue delivering care and benefits to veterans impacted by burn pits and other toxins while serving our nation."

Veterans Affairs officials also highlighted separate provisions in the budget deal that would exempt veterans from new work requirements connected to food stamp aid for individuals aged 49 to 54. Those changes were key concessions demanded by Republican negotiators, but will not apply to any former military members or homeless individuals.

The debt ceiling compromise includes plans to raise the country's borrowing power through next year's presidential election in exchange for a two-year budget deal that holds all spending flat for 2024 except for VA and defense — which would get a 3.3% increase in 2024.

Lawmakers have less than a week to shepherd the debt deal through both chambers or risk triggering a debt default. Treasury officials announced on Friday that if the country's debt ceiling is not raised by June 5, it could trigger a host of payment challenges for federal agencies, which in turn could trigger widespread negative economic issues for the country.

Previously, Veterans Affairs officials had warned that benefits checks, employee paychecks and medical care reimbursements could be delayed or halted if the debt ceiling is not lifted.


jrDiscussion - desc
Professor Guide
1  seeder  evilone    4 months ago

This is a relief to me and many of my veteran friends.  As expected my VA Disability is pending tomorrows posting.

Professor Principal
1.1  Kavika   replied to  evilone @1    4 months ago
As expected my VA Disability is pending tomorrows posting.

As is my son who has been worried sick over this since it is his sole income being 100% disabled.

Professor Quiet
1.2  Ozzwald  replied to  evilone @1    4 months ago
This is a relief to me and many of my veteran friends.  As expected my VA Disability is pending tomorrows posting.

Keep your fingers crossed, MAGA republicans have vowed to block the debt ceiling increase.

Professor Guide
1.2.1  seeder  evilone  replied to  Ozzwald @1.2    4 months ago
MAGA republicans have vowed to block the debt ceiling increase.

Several Progressive Dems have said they will also vote no, let's not be pointing fingers. Of course there is no certainty of passage, but it does look like it will narrowly pass tonight's vote. If it does not pass tonight's vote then it would be in everyone's interest to call their Rep and pressure them to do so in the next one. Mine is one of those MAGA Reps you speak of though so...

Professor Quiet
1.2.2  Ozzwald  replied to  evilone @1.2.1    4 months ago
Several Progressive Dems have said they will also vote no

News articles I have seen have interviewed some of the dems, while they have said that they did not like the agreement, none (that I saw) stated that they would vote no, or work to block the passage.

Professor Guide
1.2.3  seeder  evilone  replied to  Ozzwald @1.2.2    4 months ago

I heard something on the news last night about Progressives pushing back on the work requirements, but that was before it even came out of committee. Angie Craig (surgery) and Debora Ross (covid) are out so there are two Dem non-votes. Not no, but unable to vote. The Washington Examiner is saying AOC is a no vote, but if those fuckers tried to tell me it was raining I'd look out the window before grabbing my umbrella. Jefferies says Dems have enough if McCarthy can deliver a promised 150 Republican Yes votes. The threshold is 218 votes to pass.  

Jeremy Retired in NC
Professor Expert
2  Jeremy Retired in NC    4 months ago

Veterans benefits should have NEVER been on the table.  Cuts need to start with the politicians salaries and benefits.

Professor Guide
2.1  seeder  evilone  replied to  Jeremy Retired in NC @2    4 months ago
Veterans benefits should have NEVER been on the table.

They shouldn't be, but they have been in the past. And of course this is all moot if the bill doesn't pass.


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