BUDGET RESOLVE. This morning I went to a sparsely attended press conference hosted by the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs where several representatives patted themselves on the back for passing the continuing budget resolution which adds an additional $6.6 billion in health care and discretionary funding for veterans. In light of the Walter Reed scandal, Democrats in the Veterans' Committee are pushing for more funding. Budget chair John Spratt emphasized funding for post-traumatic stress disorder, calling for the hiring of more psychiatrists to deal with the "growing beneficiary population" -- Iraq and Afghanistan vets who will be dealing with postwar trauma -- as well as funding for prosthetics research.

As I've said before, the silver lining in the Walter Reed scandal (though, to reiterate, that's an Army rather than a VA hospital) is that opposition to VA funding becomes even more politically disastrous than normal. By promoting an increase over previous Congress' budgets for veterans, Democrats are drawing votes from those that may have gone for the Republicans a few years ago.

-- Kay Steiger

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