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Murray amendment to GOP budget would allow for additional investments to improve access to quality health care and specialty services

(Washington, D.C.) Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Budget Committee, introduced an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2016 Budget Resolution that was voted on by voice and adopted unanimously. The amendment builds on the existing reserve fund to add additional support and resources to a wide range of programs and services to help veterans and servicemembers. It would open up space in the budget to allow for investments to expedite the processing of VA claims, bring down wait times for health care, support caregivers of veterans from all eras, and improve fertility treatment and care for women veterans. It would also allow for investments to improve access to transition, education, and job training and credentialing programs to veterans and servicemembers, in addition to many other services.

“There is no more solemn promise we make as a nation than our commitment to care for the men and women who serve in the United States military,” said Senator Patty Murray. “I’m going to keep pushing to provide additional support to make changes needed at VA to get veterans the care they deserve and improve programs to ease the transition into civilian life. We are moving in the right direction in fixing some of the problems our veterans face—but the work is far from over.” 

At the end of 2013, Senator Murray and Representative Paul Ryan worked with their colleagues to pass the Bipartisan Budget Act, which prevented another government shutdown, rolled back sequestration evenly across defense and non-defense discretionary spending for two years, and moved Congress away from the constant crises. The budget caps will be back in place this year unless another bipartisan deal is reached.

Overview of the amendment:

Senator Murray’s amendment would expand a deficit-neutral reserve fund for legislation that relates to the eligibility for both military retired pay and veterans’ disability compensation, and would expedite the processing of VA claims. It would also support VA’s infrastructure needs and programs to help servicemembers join the workforce after their service. Furthermore, it focuses on improving health care through the Department of Veterans Affairs by improving specialty services, including mental health care, homeless services, gender specific health care, fertility treatment, and support for caregivers.

Senator Murray’s remarks as prepared:

Chairman Enzi, Ranking Member Sanders, I offer my amendment to build on the reserve funds that the Chairman has included in the Fiscal Year 2016 budget, for additional investments in programs that support our veterans and servicemembers.

There is no more solemn promise we make as a nation than our commitment to care for the men and women who serve in the United States military. 

These men and women put life and limb on the line to protect our country, protect our freedoms, and protect our way of life.

And in return, we, as a country, make a promise to care for them, no matter what.

And supporting our nation’s heroes is one issue on which we are rarely divided.

That’s why I’m introducing an amendment to build on the existing reserve fund to add additional support and resources for critical programs that help veterans and servicemembers access health care, job-training programs, and specialty services.

This amendment would allow us to expand eligibility for the comprehensive caregiver support program to veterans of all eras. This critical program helps veterans stay in their homes with their loved ones, and out of the hospital.  That gives veterans a much better quality of life, and is also more cost effective.

The amendment would also provide support to expedite processing of VA claims and bring down the backlog, contribute to VA’s infrastructure needs, including major medical facility leases, and reduce wait times for health care – including mental health care. 

Finally, it would help VA and DoD provide fertility treatment to critically injured veterans and servicemembers so they can realize their dreams of starting families.  It is long past time for those departments to provide these types of modern medicine.

I’m going to keep pushing to provide additional support to make changes needed at VA to get veterans the care they deserve and improve programs to ease the transition into civilian life.

We are moving in the right direction in fixing some of the problems our veterans face—but the work is far from over.

So I urge my colleagues to support this amendment so we can continue our work improving care and programs to support our veterans and servicemembers.

Because I know this is a priority we should all agree on.”