[Hpn] Bush Cautious About Veterans Bill;7/19/01

Morgan W. Brown morganbrown@hotmail.com
Thu, 19 Jul 2001 19:21:48 -0400

Hot off the wire and will probably be in tomorrow's (Friday's) newspapers:


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Thursday July 19 6:37 PM ET

Bush Cautious About Veterans Bill

By FREDERIC J. FROMMER, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - Legislation aimed at increasing services for homeless 
veterans could actually cause the Department of Veterans Affairs (news - web 
sites) to reduce some services, a Bush
administration official said Thursday.

The Heather French Henry Homeless Veterans Assistance Act, named for last 
year's Miss America (news - web sites), would, among other things, increase 
the number of veterans eligible for expensive
``complex care'' from VA hospitals.

Thomas L. Garthwaite, the department's undersecretary for health, testified 
at a Senate hearing that limited resources would cause the department to cut 
funding per veteran if this provision passed.

The bill's sponsor, Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn., said that if the issue is 
lack of money, the department should receive more. ``You're in a way making 
this a zero-sum game,'' said Wellstone, chairman of
Thursday's hearing of the Veterans' Affairs Committee.

``For us, it is a bit of a zero-sum game,'' Garthwaite responded, ``with 
overall budgets and competing demands.''

The Congressional Budget Office (news - web sites) has estimated the 
legislation would cost about $900 million over six years, should Congress 
approve the funding necessary for health care and other

Garthwaite, a Clinton administration holdover who will soon leave his post, 
said the department supports the bill's objectives and many of its 
provisions. He said several others were unnecessary because they duplicated 
existing services.

The legislation would provide outreach to veterans at risk for becoming 
homeless and support for veterans who are homeless; strengthen Veterans 
Affairs transitional housing; and expand a federal
program aimed at assisting homeless veterans find jobs.

Its stated goal is to end homelessness among veterans within a decade.

Garthwaite agreed that the federal government needs to do more to help 
homeless veterans. He said the department is only able to help 50,000 of the 
estimated 300,000 homeless vets.

Sen. Arlen Specter (news - bio - voting record), R-Pa., said the federal 
government should look at consolidating many of the homeless veterans 
programs that already exist and are spread out over eight
departments, before Congress moves forward with the bill.

``Aren't we chasing our tails here?'' he asked.

Twelve senators have signed on as co-sponsors. All are Democrats.


The bill is S. 739


On the Net:

Department of Veterans Affairs: http://www.va.gov/


**In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this
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those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving
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Morgan <morganbrown@hotmail.com>
Morgan W. Brown
Montpelier Vermont USA

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