House Panel Ups Veterans’, Military Health Care Funds
The House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday voted 56-0 to approve a fiscal year 2008 bill that would provide $109.2 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs and military construction projects, CQ Today reports.
The bill would allocate $4 billion more than the $105.2 billion requested by President Bush and $18.2 billion more than FY 2007 allocations. VA, which would be allocated $87.7 billion under the bill, would receive $3.8 billion more than Bush's request and $9.9 billion more than the FY 2007 funding level (Yoest, CQ Today, 6/6).
The bill would boost funding above Bush's requested levels for a number of VA programs, including the following additional amounts:
- $604.3 million more for mental health and traumatic brain injury initiatives;
- $193 million more to fully staff mental health and trauma centers;
- $508 million more for maintenance and renovations of medical facilities;
- $69 million more for medical and prosthetic research;
- $70.9 million more for substance abuse programs;
- $23 million more to assist an estimated 2,300 more homeless veterans; and
- $12.5 million more to expand outpatient services for blind veterans.
After the bill appeared to pass unanimously by voice vote, Democrats "called a surprise roll-call vote aimed at testing the GOP's commitment to spending discipline," CongressDaily reports (Cohn, CongressDaily, 6/7).
White House officials have stated that Bush would veto any appropriations bills that exceed his budget requests (California Healthline, 6/6).
Committee Chair David Obey (D-Wis.) said, "The fact is it is not credible for the White House to claim that they're going to veto that bill."
House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee ranking member Bill Young (R-Fla.) said, "I don't see that bill getting vetoed," adding, "If it does, I see it getting overridden" (CongressDaily, 6/7). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.