Bill to extend programs to help low income and rural veterans becomes law

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This story was originally published on Sept. 18, 2019 at 11:11 a.m. It was updated on Oct. 3, 2019 at 10:30 a.m.

Congress and the president have signed off on extending several programs to help low-income, rural and other veterans in need. 

The Department of Veterans Affairs Expiring Authorities Act passed with a near-unanimous House vote Sept. 18, 417-1.  The one vote against was cast by West Virginia Republican Rep. Alex Mooney. The bill later passed the Senate and on Oct. 3, Rep. Anthony Brindisi, D-N.Y. announced that President Donald Trump had signed the bill into law.

The bill, introduced by Brindisi and Rep. Mike Bost, R-Ill., preserves several programs. The bill specifically:

  • Extends funding for financial assistance for supportive services for very low-income veteran families in permanent housing, including appropriations of about $380 million;
  • A one-year extension of the VA's authority to temporarily expand payments and allowances for beneficiary travel for veterans receiving care from vet centers, especially rural veterans who live far from facilities;
  • A one-year extension of VA's authority to operate a regional office in the Philippines;
  • A one-year extension of VA's authority related to vendee loans. 

The goal of the bill is to "extend key VA programs and ensure benefits are not interrupted for America's veterans," Brindisi said in a news release about the bill. 

“Our veterans defended our country and earned these benefits,” Brindisi said in a statement. “Our rural veterans sometimes need to travel long distances to receive care and they shouldn’t be forced to foot the bill. Washington needs to do right by all of our veterans and make sure there is no interruption in services for them or their families.”

Multiple members of the House Veterans Affairs Committee on Tuesday spoke on the House floor in support of the bill, including measures to continue supportive services for low-income veterans as a means to help combat homelessness among veterans. 

Women veterans are the fastest growing group of homeless vets. This bill aims to help.

Homeless women veterans are afraid to be separated from their children if they seek help, advocates say