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VFW Washington Weekly, May 8, 2009

Posted at 08:04 PM on Monday, May 11, 2009 by Dept MO-VFW

In This Issue:
1. VA Budget Released
2. House Small Business Committee Action
3. House VA Committee Moves Bills
4. Defense Budget Released


1. VA Budget Released: President Obama rolled out the specifics of his FY 2010 budget this week.  Under his proposal, VA will receive $55.9 billion in discretionary funding, about $5.7 billion more than last year.  The amount exceeds the $54.6 billion recommended by the Independent Budget.  The funding provided would allow 500,000 more Category 8 veterans to enroll in VA by 2013. Other budget highlights include:
* $5.9 billion to expand institutional and non-institutional long term care.
* $4.6 billion to expand inpatient, residential and outpatient mental health clinics.
* $1.9 billion for five medical facility construction projects already in progress, and funding for seven new projects.
* $1.8 billion to improve claims processing, which includes sufficient funding for new GI Bill claims.
* $440 million to improve access to rural health care.
* $360 million for development and implementation of an electronic health record.
* $183 million for women veterans' services.
* $144 million for a paperless claims processing system.
VFW National Commander Glen Gardner applauded the budget, saying "This budget gives VA Secretary Eric Shinseki and his staff the funding to transform the VA into a true 21st century organization.  The VFW urges Congress to appropriate the funding quickly yet responsibly."
To read the VFW press release, go to: http://www.vfw.org/index.cfm?fa=news.newsDtl&did=5029.
For the complete budget and VA press statement, go to: http://www.va.gov/budget/products.htm.

2. House Small Business Committee Action: VFW testified before the House Small Business Committee on Wednesday.  The hearing delved into veterans' employment with specific emphasis on opportunities for entrepreneurship through legislation sponsored by Rep. Glenn Nye (D-VA).  HR 1803, would establish a veterans' small business program, and enhance opportunities for veterans wanting to start their own business or build on an existing one.  Title I of the bill would expand services by providing entrepreneurial education, information, and resources to assist veterans in starting or maintaining a business.  The bill would allow $10 million in grants for veteran business centers in FY 2010 and $12 million in FY 2011.  VFW looks forward to working with the committee to move the legislation forward.
To view the hearing, go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e84H61KFy98&feature=PlayList&p=0A32F7F3A0F4C81B&index=5.

3. House VA Committee Moves Bills: The House VA Committee approved several VFW-supported bills by voice vote.  The bills include:
* HR 1170 would provide grants up to $200,000 for development of technologies to improve adaptive housing for disabled veterans.
* HR 1088, The Mandatory Veteran Specialist Training Act of 2009, would provide a one-year period for training (instead of the current three) for new DVOPs and LVOPs through the National Veterans Employment and Training Institute.
* HR 1089 would enforce employment rights of veterans and members of the armed services employed by the Federal Government.
* HR 466, The Wounded Veterans Job Security Act, would prohibit any employment discrimination against veterans who have an injury, illness or disability determined by VA.  The bill was amended to clarify reemployment protections afforded to service members and veterans in the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA).
The bills now move to the full Committee and get moved to the House floor for action.  For more on any of the bills, type the bill number into the search box at: http://thomas.loc.gov/

4. Defense Budget Released: The President released this week his proposed FY2010 budget, requesting $663.8 billion for defense.  This figure includes $533.8 billion in discretionary budget authority and $130 billion to support overseas contingency operations.  This is a 4% increase over FY2009 defense spending, but only 2.1% in real growth after adjusting for inflation.  Some budget highlights are:
* 2.9% across-the-board military pay raise.
* 6% average increase in Basic Allowance for Housing and a 5% increase in Basic Allowance for Subsistence.
* 2% pay raise for civilian employees.
* Provides $11 billion to fund military housing and support programs, to include constructing new barracks and family housing units, funding for child care centers, youth programs, and morale, welfare, and recreation activities.
* Fully funds military healthcare this year with no proposal to raise Tricare fees.
* Provides $3.3 billion to support injured service members in their recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration.
* $6.8 billion to buy 30 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, and ends production of the Air Force F-22 air-superiority fighter.
* Halts production of the C-17 airlifter program as analysis has concluded that 205 aircraft already in the force or in production is sufficient.
* Reduces the Missile Defense Agency program by $1.2 billion by requesting only $7.8 billion.  The program will be restructured to focus on the rogue state and theater missile threat.
The VFW will continue to monitor the defense budget as it makes its way through the legislative process to ensure adequate funding is provided for all needed programs and military quality of life initiatives.  The full detailed defense budget can be found at the following website: http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/fy2010/assets/mil.pdf. 

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