By Debbie Gregory.
In an effort to ensure that the Department of Veterans Affairs can continue to make disability compensation and pension payments to veterans, in the event of another government shutdown, new legislation was introduced by Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
Protecting Those Who Protected Us Act of 2013, S.1564, would see to it that those who served will continue to receive the benefits and services they have earned, irrespective of any federal government shutdown. The initiative provides funding, one year in advance, for all veteran programs. This is something that is already done for health care programs.
Four years ago, Congress and the president came together to enact advance appropriations for VA health care. Given the demonstrated success, coupled with the continuing budget stalemates, Congress should vote to extend advance appropriations to all VA discretionary and mandatory programs. It is time to change how Washington funds Veterans’ benefits by putting Veteran funding first. America’s Veterans deserve no less.
The VA health care system is protected for the entire year because of its advance appropriations, but the remainder of the VA’s programs, including claims processing, will be negatively impacted if a shutdown lasts more than a few weeks.
Veterans’ benefits and services have traditionally been supported in a bipartisan manner in Congress, overcoming political and policy differences and budget disagreements. Despite the history of bipartisanship on Veterans matters, a government shutdown could cause severe disruptions to VA compensation, pension, education and insurance payments.
Disabled American Veterans strongly supports S.1564, legislation that is intended to protect the benefits and services for those who have served.
In times of conflict and peace, the brave men and women of our military have selflessly protected our nation and the ideals upon which it was founded. Every day, the members of our armed forces risk their lives – and too frequently, make the ultimate sacrifice, to defend and preserve our freedom and way of life. We must ensure that they receive care and support when they return home.