Scott Statement on VA MISSION Act
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Bobby Scott (VA-03) issued the following statement after voting against S. 2372, the VA MISSION Act of 2018:
“The VA MISSION Act includes several provisions that I have long supported, including expanding caregiver benefits to pre-9/11 veterans and authorizing additional funding for the Veterans Choice Program. Unfortunately, I ultimately voted against this bill because it seriously jeopardizes future funding for the Choice Program and gives the Trump Administration new authority to privatize key VA healthcare services and programs.
“The bill converts funding for the Choice Program from 'mandatory spending' where appropriations are automatic each year to 'discretionary spending' where appropriations are subject to annual Congressional approval and must compete against other spending priorities. Since the current bipartisan budget agreement does not account for this change, this transfer may actually require cuts to existing VA programs. For example, to pay for the Choice Program, the VA may have to change eligibility to the caregivers program or cut funding for construction and maintenance of VA hospitals and clinics. As the federal budget deficit continues to grow largely as a result of the Republican tax scam and cuts to discretionary spending are more likely in the near future, it makes little sense to require veterans’ health programs to compete for scarce additional funding at a time when the VA desperately needs more resources to fulfil its mission.
“Finally, I have serious concerns with granting the Trump Administration additional authority to privatize and divert money away from already underfunded critical VA healthcare programs. Congress must be committed to strengthening and modernizing the VA healthcare system, but this legislation unfortunately falls woefully short of achieving that goal.”
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