RAO Davao City

United States Military Retiree Activities Office Davao City, Philippines

VA BUDGET 2009 UPDATE 1 August 2008

Posted by Service Officer on July 31st, 2008

On 30 JUL the White House Wednesday threatened to veto a spending measure for veterans and military construction unless Congress finds offsets in other spending bills that would amount to $2.9 billion — the sum exceeding President Bush’s fiscal 2009 budget request. Furthermore, if Congress cannot find offsets for that measure, the White House said it would consider a veto of the remaining 11 appropriations bills. “If Congress determines that additional resources above the president’s request are needed, Congress must provide reductions in other appropriations bills to offset this increase and meet the president’s topline [discretionary spending cap] of $991.6 billion,” OMB said. “If Congress … does not offset this increase with spending reductions in other bills, the president will veto any of the other bills that exceed his request until Congress demonstrates a path to reach the president’s top line.” OMB added veterans’ spending is “104% above the level when the president took office,” and therefore “provides ample resources to ensure veterans receive the quality care they deserve.”

The House could begin debate on the bill 30 JUL. If approved by the House, it would be the first of the 12 annual spending bills. The White House communiqué comes as Democratic leaders have said that they do not intend to finish work on all the spending bills, in part because of Bush’s unwillingness to negotiate on spending levels. Under the $72.7 billion fiscal 2009 Military Construction-VA Appropriations bill, the Veterans Affairs Department would receive $47.7 billion, which is $4.6 billion above the fiscal 2008 funding level and $2.9 billion over Bush’s fiscal 2009 budget request. The overall measure is $3.4 billion more than the $69.3 billion sought by Bush. Congress provided $63.9 billion for the measure in fiscal 2008. “This Congress is dedicated to meeting the needs of our nation’s veterans, no matter the political maneuvering of a callous president,” a Democratic aide to the House Appropriations Committee said. “Veterans are not political bargaining chips.” Bush issued a similar threat last year, but ultimately agreed to increases for the VA. [Source: Congress Daily Humberto Sanchez article 30 Jul 08 ++]

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