Congress Finally Reaches Agreement on Short-Term Budget Deal

United States CapitolAs the clock struck midnight on October 16, 2013, the House of Representatives and Senate finally approved a short-term budget deal that would reopen the federal government and avert a potential default as the result of reaching the nation’s debt limit.  After weeks of political grandstanding and partisan gridlock, the Senate took the lead in framing a budget agreement that would fund the government through January 15, 2014 and extend the borrowing limit to February 7, 2014.

The budget agreement funds the operations of the Department of Veterans Affairs at FY 2013 operating budget levels.  The two exceptions are the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) and Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA).  VHA was already shielded from the politics of the recent budget stalemate due to advance appropriations that were provided for FY 2014 earlier this year.  Additionally, the VBA was provided funding at the level requested by the Administration ($2.46 billion) in April and included in both the House and Senate versions of the FY 2014 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs appropriations bills.  All of the other accounts of VA, including Medical and Prosthetic Research, Information Technology, and the Construction accounts, will be insufficiently funded until a final appropriations bill for FY 2014 is approved. 

Unfortunately, this short-term solution allows for the possibility that the federal government could experience this same situation again in three months.  Once again, Congress failed to take decisive and long-term action to provide sufficient funding for the VA while also dealing with the fiscal problems that the country faces. 

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    Congress Finally Reaches Agreement on Short-Term Budget Deal