Chairwoman Wasserman Schultz Statement at FY 2020 Related Agencies Budget Hearing
Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Chair of the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, delivered the following remarks at the Subcommittee's FY 2020 Related Agencies budget hearing:
Good morning. I want to welcome everyone to our first budget hearing of the year.
Today we welcome the Honorable William Matz, Secretary of the American Battle Monuments Commission, Ms. Karen Durham-Aguilera, Executive Director of Arlington National Cemetery, Major General (ret) Stephen Rippe, Chief Executive Officer for the Armed Forces Retirement Home, and the Honorable Robert Davis, Chief Judge for the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.
The Related Agencies title is the smallest section of the bill but has a great impact on our country’s history and our Veterans. Frankly, I am disappointed and concerned to see that once again each of your Agencies is flat funded in the President’s Budget.
I am concerned that we aren’t keeping up with the maintenance needs of the American Battle Monuments around the world, which honor our fallen servicemembers.
I am concerned that we are not properly investing in the future of Arlington Cemetery, which is on track to run out of burial space in the near future if funds are not provided for the Southern expansion, and I know that OMB has proposed a cap on what Arlington can request in the budget.
I am concerned that as VA modernizes its Appeals process, the Court may be caught flat footed if an influx of claims come before the court after the modernization is complete.
I am concerned that the Home will not be able to care for our retired enlisted personnel because healthcare costs are growing not decreasing.
This budget clearly does not adequately fund our non-defense needs and looking at your budget request confirms this. With such misguided priorities, the Trump budget has no chance of garnering the necessary bipartisan support to become law.
Fortunately, Congress will have the final say on what the bill includes.