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Bonamici Statement on VA MISSION Act

May 16, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to S. 2372, the VA MISSION Act because the bill falls short in fulfilling our commitment to veterans. Though this legislation contains many positive provisions to support our veterans and their caregivers, on balance it is a short-sighted approach that does not adequately provide for the long-term needs of those who have honorably served our country. The bill subjects funding for VA programming to the nondefense discretionary caps, which leaves it vulnerable to being underfunded or being funded at the expense of other critical programs in the future. Our veterans and the VA need certainty; this bill does not provide it.

Additionally, I am concerned that this bill represents a concerted effort to shift resources away from VA care and instead rely disproportionately on private providers. I support veterans having the flexibility to receive expedited treatment for acute health issues outside the VA if timely care is not available at a VA facility, but veterans often have unique care needs that are best served by dedicated VA providers. Instead of making critical, lasting investments to make sure veterans receive the best possible care, this bill puts future services at risk of significant cuts by relying on funding that may fall captive to political agendas.

I am glad this bill expands benefits to all caregivers, and I appreciate the effort to ensure veterans do not have difficulty accessing care. But I cannot support a bill that brings uncertainty because it fails to provide for the needs of our nation's veterans in the future. I urge my colleagues to advance legislation that would provide long-term stable funding and support for the Veterans Administration and our veterans.