Remarks by Washington Headquarters Executive Director Garry Augustine at October 30 Capitol Hill News Conference Urging Passage of Advance Funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs
Good morning, I’m Garry Augustine, Executive Director of DAV’s National Service and Legislative Headquarters.
On behalf of the veterans and military service organizations assembled here today, I want to thank you, Chairman Miller, for standing with us in this fight and for taking the lead on extending advance appropriations.
Together with Ranking Member Michaud, you got the ball rolling by introducing and then marking up legislation to extend advance appropriations for all discretionary programs and we are grateful.
I want to especially recognize Congressman Michaud for being such an early and active champion of advance appropriations — going all the way back to 2008 — before the first bill was even introduced.
We are grateful that both of you work so well together on behalf of our nation’s heroes.
I also want to thank Chairman Sanders — who was here earlier — for adding his support to extending advance appropriations, and particularly for his commitment to move this legislation to protect veterans funding, including benefits payments on the mandatory side of the budget.
And finally I want to thank Senators Mark Begich and John Boozman for introducing this legislation in the Senate and for working together in a true bipartisan spirit to protect VA’s funding during budget fights.
Four years ago, thanks in no small measure to the tremendous grassroots advocacy on the part of many of the organizations represented here today, Congress passed, and the President signed, legislation to provide advance appropriations for VA’s medical care programs.
As a result, VA’s hospitals and clinics were able to continue operating during the recent shutdown. As you will hear from my colleagues, other parts of the VA did not fare so well.
Today, America’s veteran leaders are launching an all-out campaign to pass new legislation to extend advance appropriations so that all VA programs, services and benefits are protected.
Never again should the men and women who served be used as pawns during political fights over the budget.
On behalf of the two dozen organizations here today, and the millions of veterans and service members we represent, we are calling on the leaders in the House and the Senate to work together to put this new advance appropriations legislation up for votes this year, so that it can be passed by Congress and signed by the President.
In addition, we are calling on President Obama — who was an early supporter of the original advance appropriations bill in 2008 — to publicly announce his support for this legislation and his intent to sign it.
Today we are sending and releasing letters — signed jointly by our organizations — to the President and the leaders of the House and Senate – calling on them to make it happen this year. Copies are available from our staff here this morning.
Let me close by saying that it is time to change how Washington pays for veterans programs by putting veterans funding first. America’s veterans deserve no less.