Tester Leads Senate Vote to Advance Extension of Critical Veterans Services and Programs, Fund Federal Government
Chairman fought to secure provisions in stopgap spending legislation to ensure no lapse in benefits for veterans nationwide
Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester today voted to advance a legislative package in the Senate, which included extensions for critical Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) services and programs that veterans and their families rely on—ensuring a smooth continuation of their hard-earned benefits and support. The legislation will fund the federal government through December 16th.
After successfully leading negotiations for weeks between a bipartisan group of his colleagues, Tester secured the veterans provisions as part of stopgap spending legislation that will temporarily fund the government. Following its successful passage in the Senate, the legislation now heads to the U.S. House of Representatives for consideration.
“Veterans and their families deserve absolute certainty when it comes to accessing their earned care and benefits,” said Tester. “That’s why I’m proud to have led the effort to secure this needed support, and urge my House colleagues to send this legislative package to the President’s desk as soon as possible, so that we can make sure there’s no lapse in the delivery of these essential VA services and programs. However, we can’t afford to kick the can any further down the road on a full-year funding package—without a deal, our armed forces can’t operate to their fullest potential and our troops bear the brunt of Washington’s partisan politics.”
Among its many provisions, this legislation paves the way for the reauthorization of key veteran programs and services that provide nursing home care to more veterans, deliver transportation assistance to veterans traveling to medical appointments, better connect homeless veterans with long-term, meaningful employment and supportive services, and continue assisting disabled veterans with home modifications. The legislative package also reauthorizes key veterans’ advisory committees, including the Advisory Committee on Homeless Veterans, the Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans, and the Veterans’ Advisory Committee on Education.
Key measures secured by Senator Tester include:
- Reauthorizing the Homeless Veteran Reintegration Program operated by the Department of Labor where community organizations receive grant funding to support homeless or at-risk veterans find long-term meaningful employment;
- Reauthorizing the Health Care for Homeless Veterans Program, which provides community outreach and care coordination for homeless veterans and is often the main point of entry for these veterans to VA health care and housing support services;
- Reauthorizing a grant program to encourage the development of specially adapted house assistive technology to allow disabled veterans to live independently;
- Reauthorizing the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program—a grant program for community organizations that provide support to very low-income veteran families experiencing or at-risk of homelessness through rapid housing, rental assistance, case management, and more;
- Reauthorizing VA’s pilot program that grants Beneficiary Travel reimbursement benefits for eligible veterans traveling to access care at certain Vet Centers; and
- Reauthorizing the program allowing VA to transfer unneeded or unused Department property to organizations that offer services to homeless veterans, organizations engaged in historic preservation, or Native American Tribes.