News Releases

Senator Murray Works to Increase VA Budget in Final Spending Bill

Dec 09 2009

Bill contains billions of dollars for medical care, women veterans, and homeless veterans; Includes historic advance funding for next year's VA medical care

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) announced $109 billion in funds for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in the final spending bill. The funding, which is included in the final Fiscal Year 2010 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill, is $747 million more than the President requested and $15.3 billion above the fiscal year 2009 budget.  The majority of the funding will go directly to health care services which will help cut wait-times, increase access to quality care and mental health services for our veterans. The final version of the spending bill came out of a conference committee between the Senate and the House and is expected to pass both bodies shortly before being sent to the President for his signature.

Senator Murray also successfully fought for the bill to contain an unprecedented $48 billion in advanced appropriations to ensure a stable and uninterrupted source of funding for medical care for veterans.  This provision ensures that VA medical programs in fiscal year 2011 are funded in-full and on-time.

"We have an obligation to the men and women who have sacrificed so much to serve our country and who now deserve nothing less than the full support of a grateful nation,” Senator Murray said.  "This bill provides the VA with the resources they need to increase access, decrease wait times and hire and train the quality professionals who treat the unique wounds of war.”

Senator Murray also worked to ensure that the bill contained funding for women veterans and homeless veterans.

Women Veterans
The spending bill includes $183 million for Women Veterans Programs to help meet the unique needs of women veterans. Senator Murray has been a leader in the United States Senate in fighting for women veterans, and she introduced bi-partisan legislation to give the VA additional resources to help care for women veterans.  This legislation passed the full Senate in November. 

“Women have stepped up to serve in our armed forces at unprecedented levels,” said Senator Murray. “I have been fighting to ensure that the VA has the resources it needs to deal with the unique needs of women veterans, and this funding is a strong step in that direction. As more women begin to transition home, and step back into lives as mothers, wives, and citizens, the VA must be there for them.”

Homeless Veterans
The bill also includes $3.2 billion for health care and support services for homeless veterans. Senator Murray has been working hard on this issue, and announced in June  that last year’s funding supported 420 housing vouchers to help Washington state homeless veterans receive housing and supportive services.  Senator Murray fought for $75 million nationwide to fund the HUD-VASH program in a Senate spending bill last year, and this year she introduced first-of-its-kind legislation that focuses specifically on helping homeless women veterans and homeless veterans with children.

“Too many of our veterans have sacrificed for our nation but now sleep on the street,” said Senator Murray. “This funding will allow the VA to continue their efforts to provide all veterans with housing and the dignity that comes with it.”