Sanders Bill Would Protect Veterans Benefits in a Shutdown

WASHINGTON, Sept. 30 – Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) tonight introduced legislation to ensure that the Department of Veterans Affairs may continue to make disability compensation and pension payments to veterans in the event of an extended government shutdown.

“We must not let our veterans be counted among the House Republicans’ hostages,” Sanders said.

Many services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs – including health care – would be protected from a lapse in appropriations even during a shutdown. Funding for other critically important programs, however, is not protected. That category includes mandatory benefits for low-income and disabled veterans, education and vocational rehabilitation benefits and others.

“Losing these payments could have a devastating impact, especially on severely wounded veterans who are unable to work and depend on the VA checks,” Sanders said.

Sanders’ legislation would protect mandatory compensation and pension benefits for veterans and their families, including survivor benefits to the survivors of deceased veterans.  It would also, among other things, enable veterans to continue taking advantage of their post-9/11 GI Bill and other VA educational programs.   The bill would allow VA to continue to pay these mandatory benefits to veterans. 

This legislation is similar to H.R. 3210, which passed the Senate by unanimous consent earlier today, to continue paying for our military in the event of a shutdown.

The original cosponsors of Sanders’ bill were Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.).