Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Senator Murray Advances Legislation that
Opens the VA to All Veterans

Veterans' Affairs Committee passes bill that would make
242,000 veterans,
whose VA enrollment was cut off
by the Bush Administration, eligible for care again

Victory for “Priority 8” Veterans

On January 24th, 2003 the Bush administration announced that health care enrollment for new Priority Group 8 veterans would be suspended in order to reduce the backlog and alleviate a longstanding funding crisis within the VA.

Since Democrats assumed control of the Congress in January, Senator Murray has helped to lead the effort to make funding veterans care a top priority. As the second ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, she helped to include a $3.5 billion increase over the President's budget for veterans funding in the 2008 Budget Resolution. As a member of the Senate leadership, Murray helped to add $1.78 billion for veterans care in the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill which was signed into law last month. And just last week, Murray used her seat on the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs (MILCON-VA) Appropriations Subcommittee to deliver a $3.6 billion increase in VA spending for 2008.

In addition to allowing the VA to meet the needs of service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, the recent increases in funding will also help reopen the VA to Priority 8 veterans.

According to a recent Congressional Research Service (CRS) report, the VA estimates that if the enrollment freeze was lifted, approximately 273,000 Priority 8 veterans would have been eligible to receive medical care from VA in FY2006, and 242,000 Priority 8 veterans would be eligible in FY2007

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As Jim Hightower explains it, is that “the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans possess more net worth today than the bottom 90 percent of us combined. Worse, these privileged few and their political henchmen have structured a new economic ‘normal’ of long-term joblessness, low wages, no benefits or worker rights, miserly public services, and a steadily widening chasm between the rich and the rest of us.” We must restore sanity to this nation.