Congress Should Support Veterans Without Exploding the Debt

The Senate is likely to vote on the Honoring our PACT Act soon, which would spend roughly $280 billion to expand veterans benefits and allow policymakers to reclassify up to $390 billion of additional discretionary funding as mandatory. They may also vote on an amendment to limit this funding reclassification, which would prevent the legislation from potentially costing far more than intended.

The following is a statement from Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget:

Congress should act quickly to support veterans injured in the line of duty as a result of toxic burn pit exposure. And they should find the necessary revenue or spending cuts to fully fund these important benefits. With inflation surging and debt approaching record levels, we shouldn’t be putting another $300 billion on the national credit card when these benefits are so clearly worth fully paying for.

Honoring our veterans also shouldn’t be used an as excuse to back-fill other discretionary funding priorities. As we pointed out in June before Senate passage of an earlier version of the bill, the current legislation would allow policymakers to transfer up to $390 billion of existing funds from discretionary to mandatory – which would make it easier for appropriators to boost funding in other areas without paying the costs.

Members of Congress should support an amendment to limit new veterans funding to cover new expenses. And they should identify offsets for these remaining costs.

Let’s do right by our veterans and by our children.


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