Funding for permanent VA clinic in Senate budget

By By Lance Traweek / American Press

Funding for a permanent Veteran Affairs clinic in Lake Charles was included in the U.S. Senate’s $3.7 trillion budget, which

passed early Saturday by a 50-49 vote.

An amendment by U.S. Sen. Mary

Landrieu, D-La., for the construction of VA clinics in Lake Charles and

Lafayette would support

future funding of these clinics, making the clinics a priority for

federal funding. The amendment would take out one of the

budgetary roadblocks delaying the construction of the VA clinics.

“Because of a bureaucratic bottleneck at (the Congressional Budget Office), veterans across the country, including 20,000 in South Louisiana, have faced unacceptable delays in these health clinics,” Landrieu said in a news

release. “After the sacrifices these brave men and women have made for our country, it is unconscionable to allow this to continue. Our veterans deserve quality, convenient

health care. This amendment puts us on a path to fixing this problem, and I call on my colleagues, particularly the House

and Senate leadership, to work together to achieve a resolution.”

A Landrieu staffer said Monday that the

legislation is a step in the right direction because it raises

awareness for a deficit-neutral

reserve fund. The staffer said the budget amendment allows for the

bill to be one of the first vehicles that goes out of committee

and to the floor for veterans legislation.

The amendment’s passage does not accelerate the timeline for a permanent VA clinic in Lake Charles, but the bill would authorize

the two Louisiana clinics for fiscal years 2013 and 2014.