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

STATEMENT OF REP. LANE EVANS (D-IL)

Planned GOP cuts would place a lump of coal in the stockings of disabled veterans and their families.

As the holiday season approaches, the House Republican leadership is planning a special gift for our nation’s veterans – an across-the-board cut that could equate to a loss of $327 million, mostly in health care dollars, in vital resources to care for our veterans.

I strongly oppose this across-the-board cut in discretionary spending that the House Republican leadership is purportedly planning to include in the fiscal year 2006 Defense Appropriations bill. Yet again the true priorities of House Republicans are unveiled, and they are not the priorities of the citizens in my district and state, nor are they the priorities of our veterans.

These unwise and unfair cuts will have a dramatic and harmful effect on Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care services.

The House Republican leadership fails to understand that arbitrary cuts can dramatically affect the lives and health of real people, and are especially cruel when they involve health care dollars that should go to care for veterans.

This past fiscal year, the VA was forced to admit that it did not have the necessary resources to meet the health care needs of our veterans. Finally, after much prodding by Democrats and the veterans’ community, the Bush Administration reluctantly requested additional funding to provide the resources needed for veterans seeking health care, including those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan for both fiscal years 2005 and 2006.

Now the House Republican leadership wants to turn right around and take away a significant portion of this funding.

Arbitrary cuts in veterans health care spending are irresponsible and demonstrate yet again the inability of the Bush Administration and the Republican-controlled Congress to understand the needs of veterans.

They fail to recognize that caring for veterans is a continuing cost of war and supporting our troops does not end when they take off the uniform and re-enter the civilian world.

I ask the House Republicans to remember veterans and military families during this holiday season by providing the VA the resources it needs, not by cutting already inadequate budgets.