Rep. Diane Black (TN) and Commander Samuels
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, during a joint hearing, the members of the House and Senate Veterans' Affairs Committees heard testimony from the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) on its 2012 legislative priorities with concerns over VA's budget and the specter of sequestration at the top of the list.
"The largest issues facing VA, and all American veterans, are the threat of sequestration and possibility of devastating budget cuts for VA," stated Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs. "This issue arises due to an ambiguity in the law and the Obama Administration's refusal to answer basic questions on whether VA would be part of this historic cut. For months I've been trying to get clarity about this issue to no avail, and that is why I want to thank you, Commander Samuels, and all members of the DAV, for joining other veterans groups in pleading with the President to direct OMB to give us, and the nation, the Administration's interpretation of the conflicts in law so we can protect veterans healthcare and benefits."
"The DAV calls upon the members of these Committees to ensure that our government fulfills its promises to our nation's disabled veterans," said National Commander of the DAV, Donald L. Samuels. "We also call upon these Committees to vigorously provide oversight of VA to ensure that it is properly carrying out its mission to our nation's sick and disabled veterans and their families and survivors."
DAV will continue its focus on the growing VA claims backlog, which is now over 800,000 pending claims, in 2012. Commander Samuels also expressed concern for the burgeoning VA bureaucracy, stating "some VISNs employ hundreds of administrative personnel and have occupied enormous buildings to serve as their permanent headquarters. We urge the Committees to carefully examine the growth of VISNs and the increasing share of the budget that they currently consume, versus the value they add to the delivery of VA health care."
"I thank each member of the DAV who joined us here today to talk discuss the important issues facing VA this year, and in the future," Miller said. "I would also like to thank my colleagues from across the Capitol for joining us today. This hearing is a testament of our commitment to work in a bipartisan manner to benefit our veterans and their families."
Photos from the hearing can be found here.
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Sean P Eagan
Former Chairman American Cold War Veterans