Tester slams Republican leadership for failing to adequately care for veterans
Senator offers amendment to allow VA to make needed improvements, provide better care
(U.S. Senate) - During today's Appropriations Committee's hearing on funding for veterans and military construction projects, Senator Jon Tester slammed Republicans for passing a bill that drastically underfunds the VA.
Tester, Ranking Member of the subcommittee tasked with appropriating money for the VA, offered an amendment to increase funding so the department would have the resources it needs to care for veterans. His amendment was defeated on a 16-14 party line vote.
Tester said that the subcommittee's appropriations bill would underfund veterans by $857 million.
"At a time when we are demanding more from the VA, we simply cannot shortchange efforts to provide for our veterans, and that's exactly what this bill does," Tester said. "Taking care of the brave men and women who served our nation is a cost of war, and this bill fails to live up to the promises we made them."
At a time when the VA is facing a crisis-level shortage of medical professionals, Tester's amendment would have increased funding for VA medical services by $557 million to ensure the VA is not forced to choose between competing priorities, including doctor and nurse pay, veterans homelessness, needed medical equipment and other investments to improve health care delivery.
Tester's amendment would also provide $300 million for maintenance at VA facilities. Currently, there is a $10 billion backlog of critical construction projects at VA clinics and hospitals nationwide.
Tester is Montana's only member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee.