Veterans well being accounting transfer a brand new headache for appropriators
“They voted for this,” DeLauro stated. “You wish to renege as soon as once more. They did that the primary time and obtained blasted, so that they needed to come round with regard to the PACT act. They voted for obligatory spending. … Don’t come round now and say you wish to shortchange.”
Final yr’s poisonous publicity regulation is predicted to offer greater than 3.5 million veterans simpler entry to well being and incapacity advantages, making veterans with 23 circumstances after being deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan and different fight zones eligible for VA advantages. The Congressional Price range Workplace estimated that the measure would value almost $280 billion over a decade.
After preliminary clean crusing by the Senate, Republicans led by then-Sen. Patrick J. Toomey, R-Pa., pushed to maintain new spending beneath the invoice within the discretionary a part of the price range. Toomey argued that the laws would transfer $400 billion in VA spending from discretionary to obligatory accounts, which might unencumber cash for Democrats to spend on unrelated applications.
Toomey’s modification, thought of beneath a 60-vote threshold, was rejected on a 47-48 vote, with all Republicans voting for it besides Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, now the Senate’s prime Republican appropriator. Collins stated on the time veterans would “discover it obscure” why lawmakers would oppose obligatory spending for well being care.
This argument is reigniting this yr because the VA strikes to implement the laws. Biden’s price range shifts $7.1 billion of the $128.1 billion the VA obtained upfront appropriations within the fiscal 2023 omnibus into the Poisonous Exposures Fund, bringing down the discretionary request for veterans well being care to $121 billion.