(WASHINGTON) – The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) today joined the four Independent Budget veterans service organizations by expressing its outrage at the President’s threat to veto the Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill. As part of the legislation the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) would receive $47.7 billion, which is $4.6 billion above the 2008 funding level and $2.9 billion more than the President requested. The House of Representatives passed the measure before taking its August recess, despite the threat.
“It is unconscionable that the President would threaten to veto legislation to fund the VA at a time of war,” said John Gage, AFGE national president. “It is clear that the President either does not understand the needs facing our veterans or he is so tied to misguided ideology that he would deny them necessary care.”
In addition to criticizing the White House’s stance on VA funding, AFGE has also been critical of the VA funding process. “The political game playing and continued delays in the VA funding process demonstrate the need for a switch from the discretionary funding process to one that is assured and mandatory,” Gage added. AFGE continues to advocate for reform in the VA funding process to make sure veterans are able to receive care in a way that is sufficient, timely, and predicable.
“Over the past seven years, the VA has been so critically underfunded that it should embarrass the American people,” said Gage. “Congress approved the funding increase to address the inadequacies in the system, now the White House is once again playing political chicken with our veterans’ care.”
The current funding process and the political gimmickry displayed by the White House over the pass several years have endangered the impressive accomplishments of the world-class health care system, and diminished its ability to meet the growing demands arising from two wars and an aging patient population. The continued threats by the White House only exacerbate the already stressed agency’s ability to address meaningful succession planning, recruit and retain top medical personnel, or engage in strategic long range planning for additional aspects of health care delivery.
AFGE represents 180,000 employees on the front lines of the Department of Veterans Affairs. For information on AFGE’s fight to fully fund the VA visit www.fundtheva.com.