News Releases

Murray Outraged that Bush Administration Wants to Fund VA Data Breach by Cutting Food Stamps, Student Loans and Other Programs

Jun 28 2006

In Response, Murray Introduces New Bill to Fund Data Fix Without Cutting Critical Programs

(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash) responded angrily to a plan by the White House to cut food stamps, student loans and other programs to pay for a credit monitoring service proposed by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). In response, Murray offered her own bill to fund the service with emergency appropriations, so that existing programs would not be cut.

"It's outrageous to first expose millions of Americans to credit fraud and identity theft and then to try to cut food stamps, student loans, and youth programs to pay for it," Murray said. "They just don't get it. This is a new problem that needs to be solved with new money – not on the backs of vulnerable families, students, and farmers."

Last month, the VA revealed that a laptop stolen from an employee's home contained personal information on 26.5 million Americans, including veterans, active duty military, and Guard and Reserve members. In response, the VA has proposed offering a year of free credit monitoring to those affected. The VA estimates its credit monitoring program will cost $160.5 million in Fiscal Year 2006.

Last week, the VA sought to cut funding from veterans healthcare, benefits and information technology to pay for the service. After strong objections from Senator Murray and veterans service organizations, the VA dropped that plan.

Today, the White House offered a new – and equally misguided proposal. It would cut funding from a host of government programs including:

  • Food Stamp Employment and Training Program: Cut $20 million

  • Trade Adjustment Assistance for Farmers hurt by imports: Cut $40 million

  • Health Professions Student Loans: Cut $6.7 million

  • Responsible Reintegration of Youthful Offenders Program: Cut $49.1 million

  • Next Generation High Speed Rail: Cut $9 million

  • Veterans Affairs General Operating Expenses "excess funding": Cut $29 million

  • Bureau of Public Debt (cut $1.4 million) and IRS (cut $5.3 million)

On June 22nd, Murray and Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) succeeded in adding $160 million in emergency supplemental funding to the Fiscal Year 2007 Agriculture Appropriations Act. That funding passed the full Senate Appropriations Committee but has not yet been brought up before the Senate. With the future of that funding uncertain and a flawed proposal from the White House, Murray today introduced a freestanding bill to provide $160.5 million in emergency supplemental funding to pay for the credit monitoring service.

Murray warned that even after the credit monitoring funding is secured, more work remains.

"Let's remember that not a dime of this funding will actually fix the underlying problems at the VA to ensure this never happens again," Murray said. "It will just provide a warning service for people who have been affected. If veterans end up becoming victims of credit fraud, the costs will rise dramatically."