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October 30, 2013 Honorable John Boehner, Speaker United States House of Representatives H-232 Capitol Building Washington, DC 20515-6501

Honorable Nancy Pelosi, Minority Leader United States House of Representatives H-204 Capitol Building Washington, DC 20515-6537

Dear Speaker Boehner and Leader Pelosi: Four years ago at a bipartisan White House ceremony, with leaders of many of our organizations in attendance, the President signed the Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act of 2009, now Public Law 111-81, to provide one-year advance appropriations for the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA’s) medical care programs. Both of you joined with your colleagues at the time in voting 419 to 1 in favor of this historic legislation. Today, on behalf of the millions of veterans and military service members our organizations represent, we call on you to work together to bring to the floor new legislation, H.R. 813, the Putting Veterans Funding First Act, which would extend advance appropriations to all remaining VA discretionary programs, and that you amend it and approve it this year. As the recent partial government shutdown has proven, advance appropriations work. Thanks to their advance funding, VA hospitals and clinics were able to provide uninterrupted care to millions of wounded, injured and ill veterans. By contrast, other critical services for veterans were delayed, disrupted and suspended. Work was stopped on more than 250,000 Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability claims awaiting appeals, burials at national cemeteries were scaled back and vital medical and prosthetic research projects were suspended. Had this stalemate continued for another couple of weeks, even mandatory obligations of the federal government, such as disability compensation and pension payments to veterans and their survivors, would have been halted. More than four million wounded, injured, ill and poor veterans rely on these payments; for some it is their primary or only source of income. It is simply unacceptable that there was even the threat of default on these payments. Fortunately, there is commonsense legislation that would insulate VA and veterans from the harmful effects of future shutdowns or even temporary continuing resolutions. H.R. 813 is bipartisan legislation introduced by House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller and Ranking Minority Member Mike Michaud that would extend advance appropriations to all VA discretionary programs. This legislation would align VA’s remaining discretionary programs and services, which comprise just 14 percent of VA’s total discretionary budget, with the same one-year advance appropriations cycle currently used for VA’s three medical care accounts. H.R. 813 was approved unanimously by the Committee in August and reported to the full House on September 17th. We urge you to work together to schedule floor time this year for the full House to consider, amend and approve this legislation. In addition, because we have learned that veterans benefit checks would have been stopped if the shutdown continued just a couple more weeks, we are asking you to amend the legislation before


it is sent to the President so that it also authorizes advance appropriations for all veterans benefits that rely on mandatory funding. Advance appropriations for veterans health care programs has proved to be a resounding success for both VA and for veterans. By assuring timely and predictable funding, VA has been more successful in planning and budgeting to use Congressionally-provided appropriations to operate its medical facilities and programs. Unfortunately, other veterans benefits and services that rely wholly or partially on discretionary funding will continue to face annual threats of funding delays and reductions due to annual budget fights. Extending advance appropriations would shield all veterans programs from unrelated political and partisan budget disputes so that VA can continue to deliver all the benefits and services that our wounded, injured and ill veterans have earned. Four years ago, your support of advance appropriations for VA health care in the House was a critical factor in its passage. Given the fresh evidence of harm to veterans caused by the recent shutdown, we respectfully ask that you work together to bring to the floor bipartisan legislation to extend advance appropriations to all VA discretionary and mandatory programs, services and benefits so that it can be amended and enacted into law before the end of the year. It is time to change how Washington pays for veterans programs by putting veterans funding first. America’s veterans deserve no less. Respectfully,

Stewart M. Hickey National Executive Director AMVETS

Gordon R. Sullivan General, USA Retired President & CEO Association of the U.S. Army

VADM John Totushek, USN (Ret) Executive Director Association of the U.S. Navy

Thomas Zampieri, Ph.D. Executive Director Blinded Veterans Association

Gerard M. Farrell Captain, U.S. Navy (Ret.) Executive Director Commissioned Officers Association of the U.S. Public Health Service, Inc.

Garry J. Augustine Executive Director Washington Headquarters DAV (Disabled American Veterans)


Al Garver Executive Director Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the US

Paul Rieckhoff Chief Executive Officer Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America

Herb Rosenbleeth National Executive Director Jewish War Veterans of the USA

VADM Norbert R. Ryan, Jr., USN (Ret.) President Military Officers Association of America

David Jackson National Adjutant Military Order of the Purple Heart

Jack Klimp Lieutenant General, US Marine Corps, Retired President and CEO National Association for Uniformed Services

Gus Hargett Major General, USA (Ret.) President National Guard Association of the United States

Homer S. Townsend, Jr. Executive Director Paralyzed Veterans of America

Peter S. Gaytan Executive Director Washington, DC Office The American Legion

Deirdre Parke Holleman, Esq. Washington Executive Director The Retired Enlisted Association

Paul Tobin President and CEO United Spinal Association

CW4 (Ret) Jack Du Teil Executive Director United States Army Warrant Officers Association


Randy Reid Executive Director U.S. Coast Guard Chief Petty Officers Association

Robert E. Wallace Executive Director Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States

Rick Weidman Executive Director for Policy and Government Affairs Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc.

P.K. Hopper National President Marine Corps Reserve Association


Joint vso letter to boehner and pelosi on advance appropriations october 30 2013