On October 8th, the House pased two key measures - the Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act to ensure sufficient, timely and predictable veterans funding and the Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act, to help service members take full advantage of homebuyer incentives.
Endorsed by veterans' organizations including the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, AMVETS, Disabled American Veterans as “an historic legislative victory on behalf of all veterans,” the Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act (HR 1016) authorizes Congress to approve investments in Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical care one year in advance, and requires the President to request those funds one year in advance.
This will ensure reliable and timely funding to support the delivery of high quality medical care for our veterans -- providing time for the VA to plan how to deliver the best care to an increasing number of veterans with increasingly complex medical conditions. This is critical to meeting our obligation to our veterans, making sure that any delays in Congress never hinder veterans' medical care. Last year was the first time in 12 years in which the veterans' appropriations bill was enacted on time. (This year, the House passed the Military Construction Appropriations bill on time, but the Senate has not yet completed action on the bill.)
House passage will send the bill to the Senate, which will then clear it for the President's signature.
The Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act (H.R. 3590) will make changes to several Recovery Act provisions in how they apply to service members. The legislation would:
- Ensure that certain payments under the Defense Housing Assistance Program (HAP) to assist military personnel selling a home that has declined in value are exempt from tax.
- Ensure service members will not have to repay the first-time home buyer credit if they are ordered to deploy to a different location and, as a result, forced to sell their home within three years of buying it.
- Extend for one year, to December 1, 2010, the deadline for taking advantage the first-time homebuyer credit for qualifying service members, so that certain service members stationed overseas can take advantage of the credit when they return.
The Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act is supported by the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Military Officers Association of America, National Military Family Association, American Foreign Service Association, National Association of Home Builders, and National Association of Realtors.
Both of these bills build on recent action Congress is taking to put our troops and veterans first, which include:
Supplemental Appropriations, to provide our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan with everything they need, expand New GI Bill college education benefits to children of fallen service members, and provide retroactive payments to 185,000 service members who have had their enlistments involuntarily extended
Defense Authorization, which gives troops a pay raise, restores military readiness, and strengthens support for military families.
Congress is working to keep our promises to our men and women in uniform. On the battlefield, the military pledges to leave no soldier behind. As a nation, let it be our pledge that when they return home, we leave no veteran behind.