Bush agrees to designate $1.2 billion for VA as emergency funds

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President Bush this week agreed to earmark $1.2 billion for veterans' healthcare as emergency spending following a request form Congress.

Last year, the president asked Congress for additional funding due to a projected shortfall in the healthcare budget of the Department of Veterans' Affairs. The unexpectedly high number of veterans seeking treatment and the growing long-term care costs caused the shortfall.

Originally, Bush did not request that the funding be considered emergency spending. This designation protects the money from congressionally imposed caps on discretionary spending. It also allows the money to be used during the current fiscal year.

But Congress then moved to classify the funding as "contingency emergency" spending. This designation requires the approval of the president to become emergency spending.