National Coalition of Homeless Veterans
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Congressional Update

8/27/2010

VA, HUD Appropriations Bills Pass Full House of Representatives
Include record homeless veterans funding

The fiscal year (FY) 2011 appropriations season is off to a slow start: The House of Representatives has only passed two of 12 spending bills before its summer recess, but both of these bills include important homeless veterans funding. The Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, H.R. 5822 – which controls funding levels for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) – and the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, H.R. 5850 – which controls funding levels for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) – passed the full House on July 28 and July 29, respectively.

Although the upcoming fiscal year (FY 2011) begins on Oct. 1, 2010, Congress is not expected to complete the appropriations process until some months after this date. In comparison, last year most spending measures were signed into law after the start of the fiscal year, but the House had passed all of its appropriations bills by the August recess.

The House-passed VA appropriations bill, which has been received in the Senate, contains record homeless veterans funding that includes:

  • $218 million for the VA Homeless Providers Grant and Per Diem (GPD) program and program liaisons, which received $150 million in FY 2010.
  • $151 million for the HUD-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program.
  • $51 million for supportive services for low-income veterans and families.

Overall, the VA appropriations bill provides approximately $4.2 billion for homeless veterans, about $800 million of which would go directly toward programs. Both of these figures are unprecedented for federal homeless veteran assistance.

The Senate Committee on Appropriations has also passed its own VA appropriations bill, which strongly resembles the House’s version. This bill includes an identical $151 for the HUD-VASH program, while its funding level for the GPD program is nearly $3 million higher at $220.6 million. Other notable numbers in the Senate bill include:

  • $10 million to provide family-friendly housing for homeless veterans on VA medical campuses.
  • $12.6 million for the Veteran Justice Outreach program.

The House-passed HUD appropriations bill includes $75 million for the HUD-VASH program. This money will support 10,000 new housing vouchers for homeless veterans.
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S. 1237 Stalled By Sen. Tom Coburn
Cites need to pay for bill up front

Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA)’s Homeless Veterans and Other Veterans Health Care Authorities Act of 2010, S. 1237, has encountered its first significant roadblock. On June 29, Murray was denied unanimous consent to pass the bill when Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) objected via proxy, Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). McConnell cited a letter from his Oklahoman colleague, who did not want to add to the nation’s deficit; as written, S. 1237 would cost approximately $3.4 billion over the next five years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

As of late August, an agreeable pay-for amendment to S. 1237 – one that would offset the bill’s costs by drawing money from elsewhere in the federal budget – had not been reached. NCHV has been in contact with Sen. Murray’s office and has met with Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV)’s office to discuss the way forward on this bill. An upcoming meeting with the office of Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, will help to solidify our strategy in ensuring this historic legislation’s passage.


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