Disabled veterans would be guaranteed their federal benefits even during times when Congressional inaction leads to a government shutdown, under a measure that Sen. John Boozman included in legislation likely to be approved this week.
The provision, included in a $1.1 trillion spending authorization bill for the current fiscal year, would protect the benefits from government spending lapses by providing advance funding.
“Arkansas veterans deserve cedrtainty for the programs, services and benefits they earned and depend on,” said Boozman, R-Ark. “Preventing disability compensation, pension and GI Bill benefits from being used as a political football during budget fights is the right thing to do for our veterans.”
Dan Hall, commander of the Arkansas Department of Disabled American Veterans, said about 85 percent of VA funding was protected under a 2009 law but that still left disabled veterans vulnerable to government shutdowns like the partial shutdown that occurred last October.
“We were only days away, we found out, from the VA being unable to write disabled benefit checks that so many veterans count on,” Hall said in a telephone interview Wednesday. “This is very important, and we are grateful to Sen. Boozman.”
Congress has not approved annual budget bills required for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1. Instead, the government is being kept running through a short-term resolution that expires Thursday. House and Senate appropriators reached agreement Tuesday on a $1.1 trillion spending measure that would keep most agencies running through the fiscal year.
The House is expected to approve the deal Thursday with the Senate following suit.
“This bill fulfills our constitutional duty to fund the government, preventing damage from shutdown politics that are bad for the economy, cost jobs and hurt middle class families,” said Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., and Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., in a statement Tuesday.
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