March 14, 2005
Jemarion Jones
(202) 639-6405

AFGE Decries Suppression of Funding for Veterans’ Health Care

Washington , D.C. —The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) today voiced its strong opposition to a recent House vote that suppressed efforts to provide additional funding for the physical and emotional care of the nation’s veterans.

The House of Representatives voted 220 to 195 to block debate or vote on two amendments to provide additional funding for veterans’ health care or mental health care in the War Supplemental bill.

“This is truly a miscarriage of justice,” said AFGE President John Gage. “If Congress won’t provide additional funding for veterans’ health care, how can we take care of not only the nation’s aging veterans, but also the new veterans that are returning from combat zones such as Iraq and Afghanistan?”

Reps. DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Hooley (D-Ore.) were prepared to offer amendments to provide better veterans’ health care. The DeLauro amendment would have given $238 million to the Veterans Administration (VA) for post-deployment mental health care while the Hooley amendment would have given the VA $1.2 billion to help VA facilities with wait time reductions, operating deficits and hiring freezes. The vote was split down party lines with 220 Republicans voting against a debate and vote and 195 lawmakers voting for a debate and vote on the issue. Rep. Heather Wilson (R-N.M.) was the lone Republican voting with the Democrats.

“This is an extremely disappointing vote,” said Gage. “Keeping those who are serving our country safe is vital and a necessary cost of war, however, what about the cost of caring for soldiers when they come home? Caring for veterans is also a part of the true cost of war but it’s unfortunate that many in Congress don’t want to pay the medical bills after soldiers have paid the price with physical and psychological wounds.”

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