From: Strider, Burns
Sent: Friday, April 29, 2005 10:33 AM
Subject: GOP Budget Resolution Leaves Department of Veterans Affairs Grossly Underfunded

All Democratic Members of the U.S. House voted 'NO' on the Republican budget resolution discussed by Congressman Evans in the following release.

http://veterans.house.gov/democratic/welcome.htm

GOP Budget Resolution Leaves Department of Veterans Affairs Grossly Underfunded According to Democratic Leader of Veterans Panel Rep. Lane Evans (D-IL) yesterday voted against a GOP budget resolution that he believes will have a devastating effect on veterans' programs. Evans and other Democrats on the Committee on Veterans Affairs supported a budget that would have added $3.2 billion to the President's budget request for fiscal year 2006. The GOP budget resolution passed Thursday by a vote of 214 to 211 added only $872 million to veterans programs.

Evans said that the final package would leave veterans programs unable to meet current needs. In support of his position, Evans cited Committee testimony from President George W. Bush's first Administration that indicated veterans' health care should receive 13-14% annually to keep up with growth in enrollment and medical inflation. Evans also stated that veterans' need to enroll could continue to grow given cuts in other public health programs, such as Medicaid, and rising numbers of uninsured Americans.

Evans also referred to earlier efforts by House Democrats to boost the VA budget which failed on party-line votes. "These efforts have been soundly rejected by Republicans in favor of tax cuts and the funding we must provide to our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. Ironically, when the troops return from these deployments, they will find a health care system that is not adequately funded to address their needs," said Evans.

Under a rarely used floor procedure, which severely curtails the rights of the House minority, Democrats were unable to review the contents of the GOP budget resolution until a couple of hours before a vote was called. (Tony Woody’s word’s follow: My God why are the Republicans taking money away from Veterans in the middle of a war while giving healthy tax breaks to the wealthy? By going behind the Veterans to stab them in their backs via screwing the Democrats from a REAL opportunity to vote or even to just STUDY this abomination of Veteran legislation before the vote with this, “rarely used floor procedure” is the epitome of corruption due to greed so they had to hide it. What a bunch of cowards.

By the way for those who don’t know, the political deck has been grossly stacked against the Veteran community in the last seven or eight months and it has not stopped. I now understand how far the Lobbyist’s dollars go in DC nowadays. Veterans used to be a delayed cost of war but not anymore. Those Lobbyists dollars are having the chilling effect of forcing Republican House Representatives into picking pork over Veterans lives and well being in order to stay in power. This is a $2.7 TRILLION economy for God’s sake! Why can’t we afford this issue? Because of the Pork and the GREED and the LUST FOR POWER! THAT”S WHY!

All Americans that get this email please write your Republican Representative a scathing letter here: www.congress.org. It’s easy to do and only takes a few minutes. Please do this soon. Tank you. Tony Woody, I’m a Navy Veteran with 22 years of service. Author of this article continues below:)

The President's fiscal year 2006 budget submission contains controversial proposals to increase some veterans' copayments for pharmaceutical drugs and levy new enrollment fees before they could access care. The conference package would provide funds that would compensate VA for the savings and lost revenues from not implementing these proposals.

Evans stated that even with the slight improvement, VA could still be forced to make draconian reductions in long-term care programs, and shoulder even greater "management efficiencies."

"Management efficiencies must be viewed as what they truly are, cuts in services to veterans, longer queues for care, and probably less points of access for care than veterans have been promised and deserve," said Evans.

Evans also expressed concerns that the funding proposal failed to bolster mental health programs for returning troops, or to better ensure that veterans' claims can be administered on a timely basis.

"America's veterans deserve our eternal support and gratitude, and we should reflect this gratitude by providing adequate funds for the programs that serve them and help them readjust to their lives as civilians. This budget resolution fails our Nation's heroes and we should be ashamed if we pass it," Evans said prior to the vote.