WASHINGTON, D.C.—On Friday, October 14, 2011, the Chairman and the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, Representatives Jeff Miller and Bob Filner, and the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, Senators Patty Murray and Richard Burr, submitted a joint letter to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction.
The letter urges the Joint Select Committee to look to history should the Committee, during the course of its work, have to turn to VA programs in order to meet the minimum $1.2 trillion deficit reduction goal outlined in the Budget Control Act. As the letter notes, the budget must never be balanced on the backs of veterans, but there have been thoughtful, measured proposals enacted in past times of fiscal restraint. None of the proposals cited in the historical examples attached to the letter affect the Six Critical Issues cited by the Independent Budget—an annual report issued by a consortium of Veterans Service Organizations that highlights protection of healthcare benefits, reforming the benefits claims processing system, transition and employment for veterans, caring for war veterans, transforming the VA healthcare delivery model, and maintaining VA’s infrastructure as the most important issues facing veterans today.
“We all have a responsibility to America’s veterans to ensure that the benefits they have earned remain intact and that their needs remain a priority,” stated Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. “We also have a responsibility, however, to ensure that during these tough economic times, we provide to the Joint Select Committee information that is pertinent to its decision-making process in a transparent and bipartisan manner. Through this letter, we outline areas which in the past have been acted upon, in order to avoid even the possibility of across-the-board cuts that would have a devastating impact on our veterans and their families.”
The Department of Veterans Affairs is the second largest federal department, yet its budget accounts for just under 4% of the total federal budget. A copy of the Four Corners letter can be found here.
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Sean P Eagan
Former Chairman American Cold War Veterans
Life Member Veterans of Foreign Wars