The Department of Veterans Affairs once again avoided proposed cuts and would actually see a significant increase under the president's proposed budget plan released Monday.
The overall budget for VA will top $243 billion for the whole agency, including the Veterans Health Administration, which cares for 9 million veterans annually -- the largest healthcare provider in the United States -- and the Veterans Benefits Administration.
The $243 billion total would be nearly double what VA operated with 10 years ago. VA’s budget has consistently increased since the start of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
VA is the only federal agency with a double-digit percent funding increase under the president’s plan. Even the Pentagon, which has nearly six times the budget of VA, is expected to only see a half-percent increase. All other non-defense agencies and programs are set to see about a 5 percent cut under Trump’s proposal.
Similar efforts on both fronts have previously been defeated in Congress.
The budget also features cuts to federal programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, which are also used by veterans, including those who may not qualify for VA health care.
“The budget request will ensure veterans and their families experience health improvements and technological modernization advancements,” VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said in a statement Monday. “That’s evidenced by the increase in budget funds we’re receiving — that not only increase health care services and benefits to veterans — but allow VA to lead the way in forward-thinking innovation.”
House Veterans Affairs Committee ranking member Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., said Monday he supported the president’s plan, which he said represents a “quintupling of VA’s bottom line over the last 20 years.”
“There is no question that the department is in the midst of a critical transformation with respect to the delivery of healthcare and benefits to those who have served,” Roe said in a statement. “With this budget request, VA will be more prepared than ever before to ensure that those efforts bear fruit for generations of veterans to come.”