WASHINGTON — As part of President Biden's proposed FY2024 budget, the Department of Veterans Affairs would get its largest appropriation ever: $325.1 billion.
It may sound like a lot, but the 5% increase is the VA's lowest hike in the past nine years.
Despite that, VA Secretary Dennis McDonough praised the plan.
He said: "As President Biden often says, our nation has a sacred obligation to support veterans, their families, caregivers, and survivors... and this proposed budget will help us do exactly that. With these historic investments, we at VA can continue to deliver more care and more benefits to more veterans than ever before in our nation’s history.”
The proposal includes $4.1 billion for construction, the largest request ever for the category as the department struggles to maintain aging hospitals, some more than 100 years old.
According to VA budget documents, the funding would be used to update 10 health facilities that "lack resiliency and sustainability."
The budget requests $20.3 billion in 2024 for the Cost of War Toxic Exposures Fund -- $15.3 billion above 2023 -- for health care, research, and benefits delivery associated with exposure to environmental hazards for Veterans and their survivors.
The budget provides $16.6 billion in 2024 for mental health efforts, including suicide prevention, up from $15 billion in 2023.
The budget invests $3.1 billion in providing homeless veterans — and veterans at risk of homelessness — with permanent housing, access to health care, and other supportive services.
House Veterans Affairs Chairman, Republican Rep. Mike Bost (R-Illinois) said: "Congress has never asked VA to do more with less, but increases in any budget need to be targeted in the right direction to be successful."
The ranking Democrat on the committee, Rep. Mark Takano (D-California) said: "The Biden-Harris Administration has once again shown its commitment to our veterans."