House lawmakers say the Veterans Affairs Department’s $2.6 billion budget shortfall for this fiscal year is further proof of administrators’ incompetence and poor planning.
VA officials have a slightly different take, saying the shortfall is a sign of their extraordinary efforts to get veterans the medical care they need, regardless of the cost.
Either way, the department has a gigantic deficit to fill in the next three months. A bigger difficulty on the next page:
Yes, it could get bigger.
It also could mean furloughs, hiring freezes and program cancellations if a solution can’t be found.
“We are going to do the right thing for veterans and be good stewards of taxpayer dollars,” VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson told members of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee on Thursday. “But to succeed, we need the flexibility to use funds to meet veterans needs as they arise.”
Without that, he said, “we get to dire circumstances before August. We will have to start denying care to some veterans.”
Lawmakers were enraged that the department is only now informing them of significant shortfalls in this year’s budget, with the fiscal year ending Sept. 30.
“I have come to expect a startling lack of transparency and accountability from VA over the last years,” said committee chairman Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla. “But failing to inform Congress of a multibillion-dollar funding deficit until this late in the fiscal year … is disturbing on an entirely different level.”
Source: Military Times
Meanwhile, back at the White House, spokesman Josh Earnest says the United States will direct $4.5 billion to help address the dire conditions inside Syria and in refugee camps scattered across the region.
The money will come through the U.S. Agency for International Development and Congress will not have to approve the additional spending.
So, the Veterans face a $2.6 Billion shortfall in their health care, but the While House and Congress have found a whopping $4.5 Billion to ship over to help Syrians who are overrunning Europe.
Priorities are definitely in order at the White House and in the halls of Congress.