Budget 2012: Veterans Affairs
President Obama's proposed 2012 budget provides $58.8 billion for operational costs at the Department of Veterans Affairs and $65.5 billion for veterans benefits.
Obama's 2012 request is about 10 percent larger than the budget enacted in fiscal 2010. It includes $208 million to implement an expansion of benefits for those caring for service members severely wounded in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama signed legislation authorizing the program last year, but critics blame the department for missing a Jan. 31 deadline to fully implement the program.
The budget also includes $270 million for women veteran's health issues, a 26 percent increase in funding for the program from 2010. The department would also spend $939 million to continue expanding VA's homelessness prevention programs, a partnership with the departments of Housing and Urban Development, Justice and Labor that is a major priority of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki. Obama's spending plan also cuts $709 million in military construction money and shifts most of the funds to veterans care and benefits programs, but provides funding for the development of five new national cemeteries.
Spending proposals released Friday by House Republicans to fund the remainder of fiscal 2011 would also cut VA construction programs but leave the rest of the department's budget relatively intact.
Department officials also said Monday that they expect 7 million veterans and their families to be covered by VA benefits in fiscal 2012. Funding in the budget proposal also should allow the department to process veterans benefits requests in 120 days or less, officials said.
A coalition of veterans groups called Obama's requests "a good jumping-off point," but said the request "falls short of what we know the veterans' community needs -- particularly with regard to prosthetics research and construction." An independent budget request, drafted by AMVETS, Disabled American Veterans, Paralyzed Veterans of America and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, will be offered later this week, group leaders said. The independent request is often used a blueprint by lawmakers and the administration to make final decisions on VA funding.
This post has been updated since it was first published.
| February 14, 2011; 4:42 PM ET
Categories: 44 The Obama Presidency, Barack Obama, Economy, The Budget
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