Welcome to the VFW LA Post 8167 - Garyville, Louisiana
Become a Friend of the Department of Louisiana
Posted at 11:21 PM on Thursday, September 6, 2007 by post8167By ANDREW TAYLOR, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON - The Senate Thursday brushed past Bush administration protests and passed legislation containing big budget increases for medical care for veterans.
The Senate approved the Department of Veterans Affairs budget bill by a 92-1 vote, with conservative Jim DeMint, R-S.C., casting the sole "nay" vote. The overwhelming margin illustrated why the White House backed away from a veto threat issued in May and has signaled President Bush will sign the bill, even though it breaks his budget by $4 billion.
The bill, which also provides huge budget increases for construction at U.S. military bases, is only the second of the 12 annual spending bills for the budget year beginning Oct. 1 to pass the Senate.
It's also the only bill exceeding Bush's budget requests not laboring under a veto threat. As such, it's a potential vehicle to carry other spending bills to either evade Bush vetoes or force the president's GOP allies in Congress to cast politically difficult votes.
The bill rewards the VA with an almost 10 percent budget increase of $3.2 billion for its health care accounts next year — on top of $1.3 billion added for health care to the Iraq funding bill passed in May.
The bill adds $395 million to Bush's already whopping $8.2 billion increase for construction projects at military bases and other Defense Department facilities, including domestic bases that are being expanded to accept troops now stationed in Germany and South Korea.
Overall, the measure provides $65 billion in funds provided at lawmakers' discretion, 7 percent more than requested by Bush, and $41 billion in veterans disability benefits whose formulas are set by other statutes.