Research

OBAMA & SENATE DEMOCRATS HAVE CALLOUSLY IGNORED FUNDING FOR VETERANS

Last Week, The House Passed A Veterans Affairs Funding Bill – Which Included The Support Of 35 Democrats. “The House passed a Veterans Affairs spending resolution on Thursday, the fifth “mini” spending bill of the week that was sent to the Senate in an effort to reduce the impact of the government shutdown. In a 259-157 vote, members passed the Honoring Our Promise to America’s Veterans Act, H.J.Res. 72. That resolution won the support of 35 Democrats, showing that there is some level of bipartisan support for passing bills that re-open parts of the government.” (Pete Kasperowicz, “Veterans Affairs Spending Bill Passes House, Goes To Senate,” The Hill, 10/3/13)

The Department Of Veterans Affairs Estimated That Over 14,000 Of Its Workers Face Furloughs, Including 7,200 Employees Who Work For The Veterans Benefits Administration. “VA projects that 95 percent of its 332,000 employees are exempt from furloughs, including the 289,000 who work for the Veterans Health Administration. The department estimates that 14,224 of its employees face furloughs, including more than 7,200 who work for the Veterans Benefits Administration, 3,200 IT workers and more than 1,000 who work for the National Cemetery Administration.” (“Impact Of A Government Shutdown,” The Washington Post, 10/2/13)

  • New Disability, Education and Rehabilitation Benefits Claims Processing May Be Adversely Affected By The Shutdown. “Medical services offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs will not be affected by a shutdown. Benefits programs will probably be affected. VA’s regional offices handling disability claims will have limited services, and the Veterans Benefits Administration will be unable to process education and rehabilitation benefits.” (“Impact Of A Government Shutdown,” The Washington Post, 10/2/13)

The White House Derided The Bipartisan House Bill To Fund Veterans As A “Gimmick” While Democrats Refuse To Act

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney Dismissed Bills Such As The Veterans Bill As Gimmicks. QUESTION: “Jay, House Republicans are willing to vote funding to reopen national parks, museums, memorials, veterans’ payments and the D.C. government.  Why is the White House against it?  Why not take what you can get?” JAY CARNEY:  “Because that’s not how this works.  It’s a gimmick and it is unsustainable and it’s not serious.  And the lack of seriousness in their approach has been demonstrated again and again and again, and this is yet the latest iteration of that.” (White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, Press Briefing,  Washington, DC, 10/2/13)

  • Obama Has Also Vowed To Veto The House-Passed Bills. “The White House on Wednesday renewed its vow to block the piecemeal funding approach pushed by House Republicans. In a statement of administration policy, the White House called that approach ‘not a serious or responsible way to run the U.S. government,’ promising that the president would veto the measures the House is considering if they were to reach his desk..” (Peter Schroeder, “White House Vows Veto For Piecemeal GOP Spending Measures,” The Hill, 10/2/13)

Senate Democrats Have Ignored The House-Passed Legislation. “As of Thursday, the House has sent the Senate five narrow spending bills, but the Senate has ignored them so far. Earlier today, Senate Democrats objected to calling up two of those bills, and have not indicated it will hold any votes on them.” (Pete Kasperowicz, “Veterans Affairs Spending Bill Passes House, Goes To Senate,” The Hill, 10/3/13)

It’s Not The First Time The Senate Put Politics Ahead Of Veterans – They Still Haven’t Passed The Appropriations Bill That Passed The House In June

On June 4, 2013, The House Nearly Unanimously Passed The Military Construction, Veterans Affairs And Related Agencies Appropriations Act For FY 2014. (H.R. 2216, Roll Call Vote #193: Passed 421-4: R 229-0; D 192-4, 6/4/13)

  • The Bill Was Placed On The Senate Legislative Calendar On June 27, 2013 And Has Not Yet Been Brought Up For A Vote. (H.R. 2216, Roll Call Vote #193: Passed 421-4: R 229-0; D 192-4, 6/4/13)

MEANWHILE, VETERANS ARE THE ONES PAYING THE PRICE WITH A BACKLOG OF CASES

As Of September 28, Before The Shutdown Took Effect, The VA Backlog Had 725,469 Cases Pending, 58 Percent For More Than Half Of Which For More Than 125 Days. “The federal VA has been widely criticized for the backlog. As of Sept. 28, the VA said there were 725,469 cases pending, 58 percent of them for more than 125 days.” (Pamela M. Prah, “Backlogs for Veterans Could Grow Under Shutdown,” Stateline, 10/2/13)

The VA Has Already Warned That The Shutdown “Will Reverse Its Progress On Lowering The Backlog Of Disability Claims.” “The Department of Veterans Affairs warned Tuesday night that the government shutdown will reverse its progress on lowering the backlog of disability claims. The department said it can no longer pay overtime to claims processors, an initiative begun in May that department officials credit as a major reason for a 30 percent drop in the inventory of disability claims over the last six months.” (Steve Vogel, “VA Warns Disability Claims Progress ‘At Risk,’” The Washington Post, 10/1/13)

  • “In Part Because The VA Had Its Staff Working Mandatory Overtime, The Backlog Is Down 30 Percent Since March. But When The Government Shut Down, The Overtime Stopped And All Appeals Were Suspended.” (Quil Lawrence, “Government Shutdown Will Add To VA’s Backlog,” NPR, 10/3/13)
     
  • “‘Overtime Ends Today,’ Tommy Sowers, The VA’s Assistant Secretary For Public And Intergovernmental Affairs, Wrote In A Tweet Tuesday. ‘After Decreasing Backlog By 30% We Project It Will Start Increasing’” (Steve Vogel, “VA Warns Disability Claims Progress ‘At Risk,’” The Washington Post, 10/1/13)