News Releases

VETERANS FUNDING 2008: Murray Helps Deliver Hefty Funding Increase for Veterans in Annual Spending Bill

Jun 13 2007

Murray's efforts result in VA funding that is $3.6 billion over President's request, nearly meets veterans service organizations' Independent Budget

Legislation includes important language for vets in Wenatchee, Walla Walla, and Northwest Washington

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, helped steer a substantial funding increase to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in the annual VA spending bill. The bill, which was unveiled today in the Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs (MilCon/VA), sets total VA funding at more than $87 billion for 2008.

"This bill finally takes the necessary steps to recognize our veterans as a cost of war," said Senator Murray. "It invests in improving health care, expanding mental health services, fixing the VA benefits process, and constructing new facilities. It will mean more qualified health care workers, reduced wait times for benefits, better prosthetics, and more accessible veteran's facilities. After years of frustration, we are now honoring the sacrifice of those who sign up to serve with funding that meets their needs."

The funding included in the Veterans spending bill is more than $3.6 billion over the President's funding request and represents nearly all of the Independent Budget which is put together by Veterans Service Organizations. The bill is also an increase of nearly $10 billion over the VA spending bill approved last year by the Republican-led Senate.  

As a senior member of both the Appropriations committee that oversees the VA budget and the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, Senator Murray has established a long record of fighting for the needs of America's veterans. 

"For years I called for increased veterans funding and this administration said they had what they needed," said Senator Murray. "Clearly, the constant reports of long benefits waiting lines, inaccessible mental health care, and poor conditions at facilities have painted a different picture. Today, we are taking the first step to right the ship. This bill sets a new standard for supporting our veterans when they return home."

Senator Murray has also included language in the 2008 spending bill that instructs the VA to take important steps to bring VA facilities closer to veterans in Washington state. The language pertains to existing and planned VA facilities in Northwest Washington, Wenatchee, and Walla Walla. 

"We have veterans from different wars, in all different corners of our state that need a VA facility close to home that they can count on," said Senator Murray. "This legislation takes important steps forward in funding and opening facilities in deserving regions of our state.”

The language that Senator Murray included for regional VA facilities in the bill is listed below: 

Northwest Washington Community-Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC)

"The Committee is aware of the lack of access to VA primary care in Washington state and appreciates the Department’s approval of a CBOC in Northwest Washington. The Committee encourages the VA to move forward in opening the CBOC by the VA’s target date of February 2008." 

Wenatchee Community-Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC)

"The Committee is concerned about repeated delays in the opening of the Wenatchee CBOC and urges the VA to open the clinic as soon as possible." 

Walla Walla Outpatient Facility

"The Committee is aware of the substantial number of veterans served by the Walla Walla, Washington VA Medical Center and is supportive of the VA's decision to approve construction of an outpatient clinic in Walla Walla, Washington as part of the CARES process. In order to complete the construction of this project in a timely manner, the Committee urges the VA to include funding for this project in the fiscal year 2009 budget request." 

Walla Walla Extended Care Facility

"The Committee is aware of the collaborative efforts of the Walla Walla VA Medical Center and the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs to meet the long term care needs of veterans in Southeast Washington and Northern Oregon by building a long term care facility on the Walla Walla VA Medical Center grounds. The Committee supports the creation of a jointly operated veterans’ home in Walla Walla, Washington, and encourages the VA to promptly review this application and place on the priority list for funding in FY 2008 from the Grants for Construction of State Extended Care Facilities account."