Veterans Press <Vetspress@MAIL.HOUSE.GOV> wrote:
Evans holiday season scare tactic rings hollow
Washington, D.C. - According to Congressman Lane Evans (D-Ill.), Halloween and April Fool's Day have been rolled into one holiday this year. An attempt to pull a prank and scare this nation's 25 million veterans backfired. Yesterday, the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs released as fact a scary tale of fictitious cuts to veterans healthcare funding.
A misleading statement from Evans said that GOP leaders were "planning" a lump of coal for veterans' stockings: a healthcare funding cut. This is patently false.
Halloween is over and April Fool's Day is a long way off, but that hasn't stopped the Democrats from trying a holiday season scare tactic based on bad information.
"There will be no cuts to veterans' health care," Chairman Steve Buyer (R-Ind.) said. Buyer, along with House leadership, ensured that veterans healthcare and benefits will be exempted from any budget cuts used to fund hurricane relief. Called a "carve-out," the exemption will leave intact the increases made to veterans funding again this year.
"This holiday season, the only lump of coal that will be delivered is to those who seek to play politics with the men and women who have served this country. America has kept faith with its veterans and we will continue to do so, no matter what time of year it is," Buyer said.
Despite the perennial rhetoric that swirls around, not one veterans benefit has been cut. Since 1995, VA funding has steadily risen more than 75 percent. President Bush just signed into law the appropriations bill providing VA more than $70 billion for fiscal year 2006, an increase in veterans' medical care spending of 18 percent over the past two years.
In addition, Chairman Buyer led the effort to provide VA $1.5 billion in supplemental funds in August to fix a shortfall the department belatedly discovered. VA, unable to use it all in 2005, will roll more than a billion dollars into 2006.
VA healthcare is now synonymous with world-class quality. Yet, we must seek ways to improve access, further enhance quality and cut excessive waiting times for appointments.
"There are sufficient challenges in real life without concocting scary tales. The use of raw politics this holiday season is disappointing," Buyer said.
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