As Chairman of the Military Personnel Subcommittee of the House's National Security Committee, and as a former member of the Veterans' Affairs Committee, there is nothing more important to me than issues affecting the men and women of the armed services and of military veterans. Since coming to Congress, I have consistently fought against cutbacks in funding levels for veterans' programs and allowances. Each citizen is truly indebted to those that have served this great nation. I am committed to making sure that there will be no revocation nor diminishing of the programs that veterans need and depend upon. I am particularly concerned with making medical care available to all those who have served our country and improving the care in all V.A. facilities across the nation. Veterans with disabilities and their families should also be properly compensated for their suffering.
I am proud to report that this Congress will not turn its back on our nation's veterans. According to the House Budget Committee, total spending for the Veterans Administration (VA) will increase from $37.8 billion in FY 1996 to $39.9 billion in FY 2002. During the next six years, more than $233.3 billion will be spent on veterans' programs -- $18.7 billion more than the previous six years. Funding for veterans will increase even though the number of veterans is estimated to decline by 2.6 million, or 11 percent, by the year 2002. Full funding for compensation, pension, and other earned benefits, including Cost of Living Adjustments each year, are provided in the veterans budget.
Congress' budget for veterans and veterans programs will be $5 billion more than what Bill Clinton had wanted to spend. In fact, Congress will spend nearly $100 million more on VA medical care in FY 97 than Bill Clinton's budget. Additionally, the Clinton Administration's budget drops VA medical spending from $17 billion in FY 97 to $13 billion in FY 2000, without any explanation of how this would be achieved.
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