House vote sets up VA funding squabble

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A battle between the two houses of Congress appears to be shaping up after the House Thursday unanimously approved a supplemental appropriations bill. One provision in the plan would provide the Department of Veterans Affairs with $975 million to cover its budget deficit.

One day earlier, the Senate added $1.5 billion in emergency funds for VA healthcare programs to the FY 2006 Interior appropriations bill. The discrepancy could lead to a stalemate between the House and Senate, according to Congressional Quarterly Today. The White House requested the amount in the House bill.

House funds include $226 million for long-term care, as well as $273 million for expenses related to veterans of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Another $200 million is slated for all but the lowest-priority veterans. The VA said its budget deficit could reach at least $1 billion in fiscal year 2005, while the administration estimated it could reach at least $2.6 billion in fiscal year 2006.