Legion: Congress is Missing Its Chance to Help America’s Veterans

WASHINGTON — The House of Representatives failed to pass a bill yesterday that would have guaranteed payments of benefits to America’s veterans beyond this month as a partial shutdown of the federal government continues.

The Honoring Our Promise to America’s Veterans Act, which failed by a 264-164 vote, also would have provided funding to the Veterans Benefits Administration so that processors could continue to work overtime to reduce the massive backlog of undecided claims.

“Yesterday, Congress had a chance to put America’s veterans before politics and failed,” said Daniel M. Dellinger, national commander of The American Legion, the nation’s largest veterans service organization. “Because of its inability to pass legislation for necessary VA funding, Congress is jeopardizing veterans and their families who won’t be receiving their benefits payments next month if the government shutdown continues.

“Veterans and their families should be protected from this impasse and should not be made pawns in the budget debate.”

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the overtime put in by claims processors over the past six months has helped to reduce the backlog by about 190,000 claims. Because of the government shutdown, VA said in a statement, “this clear progress for veterans and their families is at risk without immediate action by Congress to make fiscal year 2014 funding available by passing a clean (continuing resolution) to reopen the government.”

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