Thanks to letters and phone calls AFGE activists made to their elected officials this week, both the House and the Senate approved legislation that would give the Department of Veterans Affairs the flexibility to shift funds from one account to another to keep hospitals open and avoid furloughing employees.
The three-month funding bill allows the VA to use funds from the newest private care program to cover shortfalls that would have triggered hospital closures and furloughs starting in August. AFGE activists also were able to convince Congress to separate this budget fix from H.R. 1994 that would gut employees’ due process protections.
“There is no doubt in my mind that our efforts persuaded the leadership to separate this bad bill from the critical $3 billion funding transfer,” said AFGE Political and Legislative Director Beth Moten.
The private care program established last year expires Aug. 7, 2017, or until the $10 billion fund is exhausted. House Veterans Affairs’ Committee Chairman Jeff Miller had earlier shot down the administration’s proposal to move excess funds from the program to other areas.