If Congress fails to pass an annual budget for the Department of Veterans Affairs in the coming months, the funding gap would have “serious ramifications” for veterans medical services, according to the department secretary.
âI am very concerned about a full year [budget extension], and we communicated this concern to lawmakers, Republicans and Democrats, âSecretary Denis McDonough said at a press conference Thursday.
âThere will be very serious ramifications for community care. There will be very serious ramifications for direct care. I am very worried about this.
A day earlier, House Appropriations Chair Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., And the panel’s subcommittee chairs issued a statement urging their fellow Republicans to “sit down at the table” and help to finalize the annual credit allocation process in the coming weeks.
The group said a long budget extension would be “nothing short of catastrophic” for many government agencies.
In September, lawmakers approved a short-term extension of the federal budget until December 3 to give them more time to settle financial disputes between the two parties. Lawmakers are expected to make another extension when they return from the Thanksgiving vacation later this month, as many of these disagreements have yet to be resolved.
This sparked discussions about simply managing all federal operations over FY2021 spending levels through FY2022. White House officials have called a multitude of defense priorities dangerous and dangerous. national governments, as the money for the start-up and expansion of new programs would not be made available to the government. agencies.
The administration has requested a budget of $ 270 billion for Veterans Affairs for fiscal year 2022, an increase of almost $ 30 billion from the current level of spending for the year. Lawmakers also allow advance appropriations each year for the department, to ensure that any budgetary disruption due to internal political struggles does not interrupt medical care or benefit delivery.
Members of the House and Senate have raised few objections to the White House’s planned VA budget, but agency spending has stalled alongside other more complex issues like defense spending.
McDonough said running VA at FY2021 spending levels for all of FY2022 would leave many healthcare expansion efforts without adequate support at a time when the department seeks to increase costs. health care appointments postponed during the pandemic.
Authorities forecast a significant increase in spending on mental health care (up 13.5 percent to $ 10.7 billion) and programs to help veterans facing homelessness (up 14 percent). , 5%, to $ 2.6 billion).
He said officials predicted a possible failure of Congress to pass a new budget, but provided no details.
The VA budget has grown considerably over the past two decades. In fiscal 2001, it totaled just $ 45 billion, or about one-sixth of the White House’s demand for fiscal 2022.
Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, DC since 2004, focusing on policies relating to military personnel and veterans. His work has earned him numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk Award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism Award, and the VFW News Media Award.